A recent study examined what long-lasting effects cancer treatment has on long-term survivors. The researchers concluded that survivors of cancer are “profoundly” affected.
“The number of people living with and beyond cancer is increasing; a significant number of these people will experience the long-term and late effects of cancer and its treatment. Research into this group has been identified as a priority to better understand healthcare needs,” the study authors explained.
To examine this further, the authors conducted a systematic search of electronic databases in July 2019. Studies that provided the patients’ perspectives of life after cancer were eligible for inclusion. Data extraction and analysis was conducted using thematic synthesis.
The final review consisted of six articles. A total of three main themes were identified, as were four subthemes. They were, according to the researchers:
- Living with an altered sense of self
- Things are never going to be quite the same again (subthemes: 2.1. the unexpected, 2.2. the uncertain)
- Ways of coping with the unexpected and uncertain (subthemes: 3.1. drawing on internal resilience, 3.2. the influence and impact of external relationships)
After surviving cancer, the patients’ world view was altered, the researchers explained. This shift had positive as well as negative impacts on patients’ everyday lives. Overall, patients are not ready for life at the end of treatment, suggesting a need for continuity of care among patients who complete cancer treatment.
The results of the study were published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing.
“The experience of having had cancer remains significant long after diagnosis and treatment, yet effective preparation and ongoing support for living beyond cancer is lacking. The experience of living long-term after cancer is [characterized] by an altered sense of self and has implications for long-term wellbeing. Further research should explore healthcare needs and services required to adequately meet the needs of this growing group of people,” the study authors concluded.