MARCH: THINGS THAT CANCER SURVIVORS AND THEIR GPS MAY NOT KNOW

The MUHC (McGill University Health Centre) super hospital in Montreal, Monday December 8, 2014.
The MUHC (McGill University Health Centre) super hospital in Montreal, Monday December 8, 2014.Vincenzo D’Alto / Montreal Gazette

Gen Chaput, a physician at the McGill University Health Centre who oversees the Cancer Survivorship Program, says cancer survivors, their families and even their physicians are often unaware of the risks and side-effects they face in the months and years after treatment.

Prostate cancer accounted for 21 %of the cancers diagnosed in Canada in the 10-year period ending Jan. 1, 2009. Breast cancer was the second-most common cancer, accounting for 18.8 % of cancer, followed by colorectal cancer (12.5 %), lung cancer (4.7 %) and melanoma (4.7 %).

The good news is that 64 % of cancer survivors in Canada are alive five or more years after their diagnosis.

50 % of cancer survivors suffer after effects of their cancer treatment, including leukemia, loss of libido, heart and lung diseases, higher risk of melanoma, decreased bone density and increased risk of osteoporosis.

Common issues of cancer survivors: anxiety and depression; cognitive loss; pain; sexual dysfunction; fatigue and depression; sleep disorders; need for immunisation and infection prevention; importance of exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

70 % of survivors express high levels of fear that the cancer will come back.

40 % of cancer survivors who had chemotherapy treatment reported memory problems, particularly in the first year after treatment.

5-10 % of cancer survivors have chronic severe pain.

Surprisingly, 15 % of cancer survivors still smoke.

Sources: Gen Chaput, “Caring for Cancer Survivors in Family Medicine”; Statistics Canada; NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines

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