Adult cancer survivors: How are they faring?


  • Adapted from a paper presented at Cancer Survivorship: Resilience Across the Lifespan, Washington, DC, June 2–4, 2002.


This study identified the psychosocial problems that 752 patients from 3 states who had been diagnosed with 1 of the 10 most commonly occurring cancers indicated concerned them the most. Approximately 1 year after being diagnosed with cancer, 68.1% of patients were concerned with their illness returning, and more than half were concerned with developing a disease recurrence (59.8%) or had fears regarding the future (57.7%). In addition to these psychological problems focused on fear, approximately two-thirds (67.1%) of patients were concerned about a physical health problem, fatigue, and loss of strength. Two other physical health problems that concerned more than two-fifths of patients were sleep difficulties (47.9%) and sexual dysfunction (41.2%). More problems were reported by younger survivors (ages 18–54 yrs), women, nonwhites, those who were not married, and those with a household income of less than $20,000 a year. Those patients currently in treatment for cancer reported on average significantly more problems (P < 0.001) and on average had a higher Cancer Problems in Living Scale (CPILS) total score (P < 0.001) compared with those not currently in treatment. In a comparison of respondents with one of the four most common cancers, the most concerns regarding problems in living and highest mean CPILS scores were reported by those diagnosed with lung cancer, followed by survivors of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Cancer 2005. © 2005 American Cancer Society.