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Cancer survivors can't shake pain, fatigue, insomnia, foggy brain
Date:6/3/2011

CHICAGO --- When people finish treatment for cancer, they want to bounce back to their former vital selves as quickly as possible. But a new Northwestern Medicine study -- one of the largest survivor studies ever conducted shows many survivors still suffer moderate to severe problems with pain, fatigue, sleep, memory and concentration three to five years after treatment has ended.

"We were surprised to see how prevalent these symptoms still are," said study co-investigator Lynne Wagner, an associate professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a clinical health psychologist at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. "This is one of the first looks at what's really happening for survivors in terms of symptoms and treatment among community-based treatment settings across the U.S."

The persistent pain in survivors who are cancer-free and no longer receiving any treatment is particularly puzzling, Wagner noted, because good treatment exists. "It seems we haven't come a long way in managing pain despite a lot of medical advances, " she said. "This is eye opening. It tells us we need to be better in clinical practice about managing our survivors' pain."

Wagner will present the findings June 4 at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago. Sunday is National Cancer Survivors Day.

Cancer survivors seem to slip through the cracks in healthcare in terms of getting treatment for their pain and other symptoms.

"We don't have a great system to provide care to cancer survivors," Wagner said. "Cancer survivors are left trying to put the pieces together to find optimal care. They ideally need to see someone who is knowledgeable about the long-term affects of treatment." She pointed to the example of the STAR (Survivors Taking Action & Responsibility) Survivorship Program at Lurie Cancer Center, a comprehensive long-t
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Contact: Marla Paul
marla-paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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