Macmillan Research Unit (2005)

Aims The purpose of this literature review was to explore the psychosocial implications of long-term survival for people affected by cancer by systematically examining published research evidence. Key findings 283 abstracts of papers were retrieved and checked and 33 studies relating to the implications of long-term survival subjected to detailed scrutiny. This review suggests that the majority of long-term cancer survivors cope well and enjoy good QoL. However, there are areas of concern which warrant attention. Whilst this review did not set out to review physical problems experienced in the long-term, long-term physical consequences of cancer and its treatment were associated with poorer QoL and more psychological distress and sexual problems. Other long term concerns included anxiety regarding recurrence, financial difficulties and reduced social and emotional support. Long term survivors of lung, head and neck cancers appear particularly vulnerable to long term problems although there were few studies involving people with these cancers in this review. A number of limitations in the current evidence base were highlighted. Little research was conducted in the UK and raises questions as to the relevance of the findings for a different environment or culture where patients may have different attitudes to cancer survival and receive different treatments. Also, when looking at practical issues for long-term survivors such as ability to obtain insurance, or employment matters, then country-specific factors will be important.
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