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Cancer Survivors Face Tough Road Long After Treatment Ends
Date:7/30/2009

ned study, and the investigators document a significant issue, that is, survivors of cancer continue to struggle well after their treatment and recovery," said Zabora, now dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service. "But you could argue maybe this instrument under-diagnosed psychological distress."

Those who are younger, single, have less education and no insurance may suffer more because they have fewer resources to draw from to get through it, he noted.

"When you are faced with a serious stressor, in order for you to respond to it, you have to define what it means for you," Zabora said. "That process depends on how many resources you have to manage that stressor. The younger you are, the less experience you have dealing with stressors. The lower your education, the more difficult it is to understand the complex nature of the disease. If you're unmarried, you may have less support."

Getting a diagnosis of cancer and going through chemotherapy can be among life's most trying experiences, said Kevin Stein, the American Cancer Society's director of quality-of-life research.

The physical and emotional fallout of cancer treatment, including fatigue, pain, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores and hair loss, can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.

While many of these symptoms may subside or disappear after treatment ends, some, including fatigue, can linger for months or years.

Chemotherapy can also cause delayed problems that aren't apparent until months or years later, including peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain or numbness), infertility, organ dysfunction, hearing loss, muscle atrophy and cardiovascular disease.

"Chemotherapy is an effective treatment because it's toxic to the cancer cells, but sometimes it does collateral damage," Stein said.

Cancer can also bring about job loss and changes to relationships, including family roles and sexual intimacy. Survivors also
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