Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Did having cancer change you?

They did  a new study (because these pesky researchers need to stay employed) on how people who had been diagnosed with and treated for cancer were doing both physically and medically after treatment.

Well its about time. What did they think that after our oncologists and surgeons send us on our merry way and only want to see us yearly instead of weekly we would just be fine? Seriously. For patients, it has always been a cliff where treatment ends and we are supposed to cope just fine as we switch from constant monitoring to yearly check ups. The doctors abruptly cut the cord. Many patients have an emotional upheaval that coincides with this transition and seek additional support. Its nice that the medical field is taking a closer look at how we cope in the ensuing years.

The study looked at, from the patient's perspective, physical functioning, pain, fatigue, and depression. They compared them to normal people who had never been diagnosed with cancer and found that:
  • People who had breast, prostate or melanomas had the same or better quality of life as the people who had never had cancer. 
  • People who had cervical, blood, or colorectal cancers and cancers with a 5 year survival rate of less than 25% (liver, pancreas, and lung) had worse physical health related quality of life.
  • People with cervical cancer and cancers with low survival rates had worse mental quality of life. The goal is to check again in five years and see how these groups are doing with the advances in treatment.

As we are aware I am not a doctor, researcher or anyone qualified in anyway shape or form to do research as I a merely a cancer person. BUT, as I look at the different cancers they list and the outcome issues, I had a few comments (of course);
  • The people who did well were the ones who had the 'high visibility' cancers - breast, prostate, and melanoma. I think of these as high visibility as they get a lot of press. We have pinkificiation for breast cancer. We have PSA tests and possible over diagnosis of prostate cancer and its all over the media. Melanoma is ingrained in all of us as we use sunscreen since birth nowadays. These cancers are talked about, videoed, profiled, and media hyped to no end.
  • The people who did poorly physically had the cancers that either had low survival rates or less popular/lower profile cancers. Are they less acceptable cancers to get? Are their treatment protocols more 'damaging' to the human body?
  • The people who did poorly mentally had cancers with lower survival rates. This is the most logical to me. If you are told you have cancer and have a low chance of living more than a few years, what is your mental state going to be?
In my mind, this is incredibly important to monitor. Cancer patients are poisoned, burned, and cut up and given a horrible diagnosis. Doctors want to know about every sniffle all through treatment. Then the doctors say 'see you in six months or a year' and the patient is supposed to be 'fine'. Ha.

Keep researching this one. There are lots  of us who would be happy to help in the research.

1 comment:

Meg said...

I agree! I am two years post diagnosis and one year since end of treatment. My problems at this time aren't physical but still need attention!

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