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Cancer worries continue long after treatment ends

CLEVELAND -- The doctor may give the cancer patient a clean bill of health, but worries about recurrences, lingering effects from treatment, a second cancer and a shortened life plague the thoughts of approximately one-third of long-term, older-adult cancer survivors, according to researchers from Case Western Reserve University's Cancer Survivor Research Project. This is one of the first studies to look at the worries experienced by long-term survivors.

It may be that these long-term survivors of five or more years after the end of their treatments may be worriers in general, said Gary Deimling, Case professor of sociology and lead investigator on the "Cancer-Related Health Worries and Psychology Distress among Older Adult, Long-Term Cancer Survivor" article in the journal, Psycho-Oncology.

But he adds that it raises concerns that cancer continues to impact survivors' lives.

Overall most survivors are not letting these worries compromise the quality of their lives either physically or psychologically, report Deimling and co-investigators Karen Bowman, Samantha Stern, Louis Wagner from Case's sociology department and Boaz Kahana from Cleveland State University, but these worries are linked to both depression and anxiety.

The researchers' concerns led to the study of 321 long-term survivors of breast, colorectal or prostate cancer in National Cancer Institute-funded Cancer Survivors Research Project at Case.

While much research focuses on cancer during and immediately after, this study looked at the survivors who average slightly more than 10 years after their last treatment and are over the age of 60. They felt that years after treatment the survivors might have different worries about cancer than those experienced during the disease.

While the five-year point is often considered a milestone in surviving cancer, Deimling points out that most survivors recognize that it as no guarantee of a cancer-free futu
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
1-Jun-2006


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