Anxiety Common in Long-Term Cancer Survivors and Their Spouses

According to an article recently published in the Lancet Oncology, anxiety levels remain higher than normal among long-term cancer survivors and their spouses, and should therefore be addressed and treated to improve quality of life for these individuals.

Along with the diagnosis of cancer typically comes fear, anxiety, depression and an entire array of emotions that are felt by both the patient and their loved ones. Because of the risk of a cancer recurrence, anxiety can continue for years after a patient has been declared free of cancer.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate rates of anxiety and depression among cancer survivors and their spouses. Researchers searched data from Medline, psycINFO, Embase, Science Direct, Ingenta Select, Ovid, and Wiley Interscience. The data included cancer patients who had been diagnosed with cancer at least 2 years prior to the study.

Overall, anxiety is significantly increased among cancer patients and their spouses compared with health individuals.
Depression was not significantly different between cancer patients, their spouses, or healthy counterparts.
Anxiety was not significantly different between cancer survivors and their spouses.
The researchers concluded that ” Efforts should be made to improve recognition and treatment of anxiety in long-term cancer survivors and their spouses.”

Cancer survivors should speak with their physician regarding feelings of anxiety, as well as recognize that their spouses could also be suffering from anxiety. Treatment for relief of anxiety is available which can significantly increase quality of life for individuals.

Reference: Mitchell A, Ferguson D, Gill J, et al. Depression and anxiety in long-term cancer survivors compared with spouses and healthy controls: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Oncology. Early on-line publication June 5, 2013. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70244-4.