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CA Survivors Must Battle Stress

womanResults from a large national study suggests long-term survivors of adult cancers are almost twice as likely to report psychological distress severe enough to cause moderate to serious problems functioning in social, work or school situations, compared to the general population.

Findings also show that younger long-term cancer survivors, those less than 65 years old, were more likely to experience severe psychological distress, than those survivors aged 65 and older.

The study also found that there was no difference in the number of years since the cancer diagnosis and the increased risk of distress. Long-term cancer survivors are individuals who have lived five years or more beyond their initial cancer diagnosis.

“We hope these findings will raise awareness of the psychosocial needs of long-term cancer survivors and encourage routine psychological screening of these survivors,” Karen Hoffman, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said.

“Quick, low-cost psychological screening tests are available that can and should be performed during clinic visits.”

There are an estimated 12 million cancer survivors living in the United States. These survivors may face many stresses as a result of their cancer experience, including adjustment to physical disabilities, changes in their social support system and fear of the cancer returning or of dying from cancer.

Researchers identified individuals with severe psychological distress based on how frequently they felt nervous, restless, hopeless, worthless and that everything was an effort.

The study involved 4,712 long-term survivors of adult-onset cancer and 126,841 respondents never diagnosed with cancer using the 2002-2006 National Health Interview Survey, an in-person health survey of the U.S. population.

Among survivors, the mean age at cancer diagnosis was 47 years and the mean age at the interview time was 62 years. The majority were survivors of breast, gynecologic, male genitourinary and colorectal cancer.

Cancer survivors were more likely to report severe psychological distress than adults never diagnosed with cancer.

In addition to other findings, survivors who were not married or living with a partner, had less than a high school education, were uninsured, were current or former smokers, or had difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living were more likely to experience severe distress than those without these characteristics.

Source: American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology

CA Survivors Must Battle Stress

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). CA Survivors Must Battle Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.