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Cure no quick fix for cancer survivors on long road to recovery

traumatic experience of fighting cancer and the stresses they live with in its aftermath, Wingard said.

Each year, an estimated 30,000 Americans undergo a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplant, typically a procedures of last resort. Both types of transplantation aim to restore patients' blood stem cell counts after their own stem cells have been wiped out by high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy used to treat cancer. After they are infused into the bloodstream, stem cells take up residence in the bone marrow, where they give rise to the immune system's infection-fighting white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets. Worldwide, about 100,000 people who have undergone a successful transplant are alive, and the number of long-term survivors grows daily.

The study involved 662 patients treated at 40 transplant centers who had breast cancer, acute or chronic leukemia, or lymphoma -- among the most common indications for transplantation. Researchers at UF, Northwestern University, the University of Kentucky and the Medical College of Wisconsin interviewed participants by telephone and asked them to describe their quality of life. The patients also completed a series of standardized questionnaires that evaluated their physical health, whether they were depressed or anxious or had other mental health problems, the quality of the support they received from friends and family, and whether they had pain, sleep or sexual problems, fatigue or other ailments. They also were asked about their perceived spiritual well-being. A comparison group of 158 healthy peers completed a similar battery of questionnaires and telephone interviews.

UF researchers found cancer survivors reported large differences in measures of general health, physical function and well-being, depression, cognitive function and fatigue. For example, approximately 30 percent of survivors reported experiencing a constellation of severe symptoms that practitioners c
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Contact: Melanie Ross
ufcardiac@aol.com
352-690-7051
University of Florida
15-Mar-2005


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