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Examining Emotional Effects on Long-Term Lung Cancer Survivors

By: Sara Tewksbury
Posted: Monday, November 26, 2018

Survivors of lung cancer not only face the physical challenges of cancer, but emotional and financial hardships after they survive cancer as well. To better understand how best to support these individuals, the Lung Cancer Alliance surveyed more than 800 long-term lung cancer survivors about their treatment experiences and their most problematic side effects during and after therapy. Maureen Rigney, MSW, a licensed clinical social worker of the Lung Cancer Alliance, presented these findings at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Toronto (Abstract MA07.01) and published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

“This survey provides initial insight into the physical, emotional, and financial effects of living longer with lung cancer, but more research is needed to allow us to more fully understand how we can support our long-term survivors,” stated Ms. Rigney and colleagues.

A total of 820 participants answered 122 questions about treatment and their smoking history. More than half of the participants were self-identified lung cancer survivors, whereas others self-identified as caregivers. Of the 471 self-identified lung cancer survivors, 21% indicated they were diagnosed 5 or more years before. Of interest was that none of the long-term survivors surveyed were current smokers.

The most common long-term symptoms identified were shortness of breath (39%), fatigue (28%), short-term memory problems (27%), and anxiety (25%). These survivors indicated that during treatment, physical side effects were the most difficult, whereas emotional effects and financial hardships were more of a problem after treatment and long term.



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