Health Profiles in 5,836 Long-Term Cancer Survivors
Authors: Pamela N. Schultz, Ph.D., RN, Martha L. Beck, FNP-C, Charles Stava, and Rena Vassilopoulou-Sellin, MD
Published: International Journal of Cancer, 104; 488-495, 2003.
Cancer survivors are living longer and treatment of cancer may result in complex and long-term health effects creating unique health care needs, which are often poorly understood in adult cancer survivors. We studied surveys completed by 5,836 long-term cancer survivors who provided medical and social information about their cancer experience. We analyzed demographic and perceived disease-related medical problems. While two-thirds of the responses were from women, the response rate was 51% in both sexes. The average time from diagnosis was 18.0 +/- 8.5 years. Younger cancer survivors and men were more likely to report that cancer had affected their overall health, with arthritis/osteoporisis reported as the most common health effect in 26% of the survivors. The most common complaints among Hodgkin’s disease survivors were thyroid and lung problems (33.8%), while 14.7% lymphoma survivors mentioned memory loss as the most common complaint. Survivors mentioned that memory loss decreased as more time elapsed from cancer treatment, yet other effects such as arthritis/osteoporosis, and cataracts increased as more time elapsed from cancer treatment. Though this group of cancer survivors reported overall good health, they outlined multiple long-term health problems which are different than those of the general population. Further studies are needed to describe the development of comprehensive information about the health needs of cancer survivors.