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

ommonly consider the basis for a clinical diagnosis of depression. In contrast, only 8 percent of healthy matched controls reported such symptoms. On average, patients were evaluated seven years after transplantation, but some reported deficits that persisted for 20 years.

Others described the post-cancer phase as a time of psychological and interpersonal growth. Researchers say that's because merely surviving puts some problems in perspective. These patients reported the experience strengthened relationships, renewed their appreciation for life, reordered priorities, increased empathy and deepened spirituality.

"One unique facet of this study was that it also looked at good that came out of facing a life-threatening illness," Wingard said. "What we found was that a number of the survivors reported psychological growth and that this positive finding might have leavened some of the losses they experienced. For that reason, many of them, when balancing positives and negatives, felt that their life was better. Some pursued a new career, others found strength in renewing relationships with spouses, family and friends, reassessing what was important to them in life."

Wingard said the study emphasizes the need for physicians to remember that providing emotional support and teaching patients and their families coping skills are often as important as focusing on fixing physical problems. Practitioners also must work on identifying at-risk patients and families who may need extra attention from the health-care team.

UF researchers are continuing to study threats to patients' sense of well-being and are evaluating their data further to better characterize factors associated with positive health outcomes. Eventually they hope to identify and test ways to help them cope after cancer, boosting quality of life for all involved. That might include something as simple as encouraging patients to periodically write down their deepest thoughts and feel
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Contact: Melanie Ross
ufcardiac@aol.com
352-690-7051
University of Florida
15-Mar-2005


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