Care After Cancer

Cancer survivors often need physical and emotional care after cancer

(RxWiki News) People who go through the cancer adventure aren’t sissies – that’s for sure. No, they are the strong ones here to live and laugh another day. Thing is, cancer and its treatments leave their marks.

So survivors often need ongoing care to get the most out of life after cancer.

According to a new review, cancer survivors can have physical and emotional issues that often go undetected and untreated.

Getting these issues addressed may not only improve the quality of life of the brave ones among us, this care also may help ward off future disability.

"Reach out for the care you need."

As cancer detection and treatment advance, folks with cancer are living longer. Today, there are about 13.5 million survivors – a number that will increase to 18 million by 2022.

"The ongoing medical and psychological needs of a cancer survivor need to be considered by every healthcare provider that person encounters," Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS, vice chairman of surgery and director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care, told dailyRx News.

Julie Silver, MD, associate professor at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues wrote the review.

About 25 percent of cancer survivors are having physical health problems, and 10 percent are struggling emotionally.

The researchers said the physical and emotional issues influence each other. You know, when you don’t feel good physically, you don’t feel good emotionally.  

These numbers tell us that millions of survivors are still suffering.

Rehabilitation support for cancer survivors can be complex and include everything from helping a head and neck cancer survivor learn how to deal with swallowing issues to providing a breast cancer survivor with fitness training or offering any survivor counseling services.

It takes a village to care for the brave ones. The study authors noted that it is imperative that doctors be on the look out and screen cancer survivors for both physical and emotional impairments and refer them to appropriate professionals.

The survivor’s wellness team should include mental health and rehabilitation professionals as well as cancer specialists.

Primary care physicians also play a key role. They need to know the right questions to ask and be familiar with screenings, tools and therapies available to help survivors best live their lives.  

The goal of this ongoing care is to restore physical, mental and daily living, relieve pain and improve overall quality of life.

"While physicians must be ever aware, so must survivors. It's important that survivors speak up, tell their doctors what's going on with them and asking for help to achieve and maintain their highest quality of life," Dr. Libutti said.

This study was published May 17 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Dr. Silver disclosed that she is the co-founder of Oncology Rehab Partners, LLC, which developed the STAR Program (Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation).

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Review Date: 
May 17, 2013