CDC Urges Meeting Cancer Survivor Needs

Cancer survivors face physical, financial, psychological hardship after treatment, CDC says

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) Cancer survivors often face intense physical, emotional, and financial challenges as a result of their diagnoses and treatments. But, equipped with the right tools, the public health community may be able to help.

That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new statement calling for more concrete plans to ensure the US health care system can meet the future needs of cancer survivors.

This statement included 12 articles on recent research, surveillance, education campaigns, and other work conducted by the CDC and its partners over the past decade to improve the experiences of cancer survivors and their caregivers.

"When we think about cancer treatments, we tend to think of the physical toll they take on patients who are in active treatment," said Lisa Richardson MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, in a press release. "But these articles highlight challenges that can affect survivors for the rest of their lives."

The CDC drew attention to a few pressing issues in this statement.

Not all cancer survivors have equal access to medical care, according to the CDC. Survivors may also face higher out-of-pocket expenses than other patients. These extra costs can prevent or delay access to important medical care, including cancer screening tests.

About 60 percent of breast cancer survivors surveyed also reported thinking, memory, and concentration problems after chemotherapy and/or hormone treatment. Of those women, 37 percent said they discussed these problems with their doctors. But only 15 percent said they received medication, counseling or other interventions to treat their symptoms.

Some colon cancer survivors also faced barriers in reducing their risk of cancer recurrence, according to the CDC. These barriers included a lack of knowledge about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and reducing alcohol intake.

According to the CDC, the number of US cancer survivors is expected to grow substantially over the next few decades, as early detection methods and treatments continue to improve. There are currently 14 million people living in the US after a cancer diagnosis.

"By 2025, there will be more than 24 million people living after a cancer diagnosis," said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, MD, in a press release. "In addition to better prevention and treatment of cancer, we must plan for the wide variety of issues that people may face after cancer."

This statement was published online Nov. 18 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The CDC funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
November 19, 2015
Last Updated:
November 24, 2015