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

may fear the cancer will recur, worries that may contribute to psychological distress.

In the study, 9 percent of long-term cancer survivors and 6 percent of individuals without cancer reported seeing or talking to a mental health professional within the previous year. One-third of cancer survivors with serious psychological distress reported using mental health services, while 18 percent said they could not afford mental health care.

Screening for psychological distress in cancer survivors by primary-care physicians and oncologists may help direct people to services that can help them cope, Stein said.

Some may find benefit from anti-anxiety medications, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy and stress management techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

And don't underestimate the power of eating a proper diet, maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active, Stein said.

"All of those things impact mood in a positive way and can help manage distress," Stein said. "And always stay in touch with your doctor. When you recognize signs of emotional distress, discuss it."

More information

The American Cancer Society has resources to help cancer survivors cope.



SOURCES: Kevin Stein, Ph.D, director, quality of life research, American Cancer Society; James Zabora, D.Sc., dean, National Catholic School of Social Service, Washington, D.C.; July 27, 2009, Archives of Internal Medicine


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