A NEW study has shown that cancer survivors may not be getting the support they need, with close to a third of all survivors experiencing some kind of anxiety or depression.
In the lead-up to the annual Daffodil Day fundraiser, The Cancer Council has revealed figures that show, despite a higher number of Australians being successfully treated for cancer, large numbers of cancer survivors are reporting “unmet needs” after an all-clear diagnosis.
The survival rate in Australia for all cancers is now higher than ever, at 66 per cent, but up to 70 per cent of survivors have reported clinical levels of fear of their cancer returning, with close to a third of all cancer survivors experiencing some kind of psychological issue in the six months following their cancer all-clear.
Another recent study also found that cancer survivors were more at risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Narelle Langfield, a breast cancer survivor and Living Well after Cancer program facilitator in Tamworth, said “unmet needs” could include worry about whether treatment has worked, lack of knowledge about what support was available, concerns around fertility and sexuality, workplace challenges and finances.
“Contrary to what people might expect, life does not always go back to “normal” after cancer,” she said.
“The Cancer Council acknowledges that survivors are often facing a difficult journey post treatment, with many experiencing practical and psychological needs that fall outside the care of the overburdened health sector.
“There is strong evidence that post-treatment information and support programs are hugely beneficial for cancer survivors, who might not realise that simple things like changing your diet, or increasing your physical activity can reduce anxiety and depression, as well as reduce the risk of cancer recurrence, chronic illnesses and fatigue. Not enough help is widely available, and many survivors don’t know where to turn.”
She said fundraisers such as Daffodil Day were vital for providing the resources that allowed for the ongoing support of cancer survivors.
This year The Cancer Council hopes to raise $3.2 million in NSW from Daffodil Day, on August 22, and $9.7 million nationally.