The Cost of Cure
The very good news is that many more people are surviving cancer and going on to have long lives. The less good news is that they have usually paid a price, beyond the money, for the extra years of life. Whether the cost is fatigue or depression or lost libido and lost body parts, it is steep and sometimes unexpected.
For obvious reasons, there didn't used to be much of a focus on survivorship. There now is a great deal of attention being paid to these issues, and increased attention is identifying many physical and emotional problems. For example, we have learned that women who receive left sided radiation for breast cancer may have cardiac problems years later. We have learned that some chemo drugs seem to permanently diminish or destroy libido. We have surely learned that most men who have surgery or radiation for prostate cancer experience some degree of problems with incontinence and/or impotence. Would all of us prefer to be alive with these problems than dead from cancer? Of course, but we need education and support and some solutions whenever possible.
This is an article about a presentation at the May ASCO meeting. It discusses both pediatric and adult cancer survivors although the start might make you think otherwise. Here is the beginning and a link to read more:
Top Takeaways from ASCO: Survivorship
CHICAGO — In forums including a data-driven plenary and a special educational session, attendees of ASCO 2015 gathered to discuss Top Takeaways on survivorship in pediatric and adult cancer.
Results from a late-breaking abstract offered clinicians evidence on the improvements, both in quantity and quality of life, that childhood cancer survivors stand to gain through careful monitoring and thoughtful therapy selection.
A presentation updating the 2014 ASCO Survivorship Guidelines and detailing their application in practice showcased the importance of screening patients for depression, anxiety, neuropathy and fatigue.
Long-term health concerns
Modifying therapy to reduce late treatment effects has led to a decrease in all-cause mortality over the past 3 decades among pediatric cancer survivors, according to a plenary presentation by Gregory T. Armstrong, MD, MSCE, HemOnc Today editorial board member,
of the department of epidemiology and cancer control, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.
The discussant for the abstract, Michael P. Link, MD, professor of pediatrics in the division of hematology/oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine, explained how these results add to existing knowledge.