A nice short report on the National Cancer Survivorship Research Conference by Darryle Pollack, one of the participants. While I am personally not a fan of the term survivor, it has become the de facto term for ‘living with cancer’ and resonates well with most people.
Some key points:
- number of survivors continues to increase dramatically
- more attention being paid to post-treatment issues
- importance of exercise, healthy diets and enough sleep
- age continues to be the most important risk factor for cancer – 60 percent of survivors are over 65
Lance Armstrong famously said that cancer was the best thing to ever happen to him. I don’t think you’d find many survivors who would agree. The challenges and concerns stemming from cancer can persist long after treatment, sometimes for the rest of your life.
Just a few that were addressed at the conference: fatigue, finances, fear of recurrence, immune function, intimacy, relationships, cognitive issues and chemo brain (which is now recognized as real).
For managing these type of concerns, every patient after treatment should get a survivorship plan from their doctors, which is a history of their cancer and a roadmap for the future, including how to address psychological, social and emotional needs.