Approximately one-third of cancer survivors were psychologically distressed during the early months of the pandemic due to concerns about ongoing care, reports a study published recently in the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. The research investigated how the pandemic affected cancer survivors’ worries about treatment, infection, and finances during the beginning months of 2020.
Corinne Leach, MPH, MS, Ph.D., who led the American Cancer Society study, used survey data from the 2019-2020 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's (ACS CAN) Survivor Views Panel. The survey included closed- and open-ended online questions from 972 cancer survivor respondents.
The survivors’ responses often articulated uncertainty about future care, fears about in-person appointments, rationed COVID-19 care, recurrence due to care delays, and distress about untreated symptoms, including mental health issues, explain the authors. More specifically, the survey analysis found the following outcomes:
The researchers hope that their findings will be used to improve healthcare policies and promote clearer communication in medical settings. Dr. Leach says, "This study demonstrates the importance of clear communication between healthcare providers and patients experiencing concerns and uncertainties that may affect mental health during the pandemic as the care provision landscape continues to change.”