MAY 07, 2021 9:30 AM PDT

Pandemic times haven't been fun for anyone, but they've been especially hard for cancer patients

The pandemic hit everyone hard on many levels; now, new research from UCSF published in Cancer reports that cancer patients experienced particularly acute levels of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and fatigue due to social distancing and isolation.

"We found that oncology patients were experiencing a deep sense of loneliness," said first author Christine Miaskowski, RN, PhD, a professor in the UCSF School of Nursing.  "For these patients, the burden of their symptoms is extremely high, and oncology clinicians can suggest a number of strategies to help them," she said.

The study comes from an analysis of a survey conducted in May 2020 on 606 oncology patients. The survey assessed levels of loneliness, social isolation, anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbance, cognitive dysfunction, and pain. The findings showed that 53% of patients reported loneliness, a number significantly higher than pre-pandemic statistics (32-47%). Within this, roughly one-third reported moderately high degrees of loneliness, and 5.3% reported high levels of depression.

Those reporting loneliness were significantly more likely to be younger people and less likely to be married or partnered. While older cancer patients reported lower levels of loneliness, patients 50 to 59 reported higher levels. Furthermore, higher levels of loneliness were also associated with higher levels of loneliness.

As the authors write, “The symptom burden of these patients is extremely high and warrants clinical evaluation and interventions.” Miaskowski comments that doctors should recommend interventions such as, "Patients should be encouraged to maintain contact with family and friends, and structure their daily routines when possible, through outdoor activities for example, as well as to maintain a healthy diet and sufficient sleep. These suggestions might mitigate some of the negative effects of loneliness."

Sources: Cancer, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 16, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Machine Learning Ranks Cancer Drugs by Efficacy
JUL 16, 2021
Machine Learning Ranks Cancer Drugs by Efficacy
A machine learning algorithm developed by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London in the UK can rank cancer d ...
AUG 17, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Delays in Breast Cancer Diagnoses Among Black Women
AUG 17, 2021
Delays in Breast Cancer Diagnoses Among Black Women
Thanks to breakthrough diagnostic technologies, we can now catch the early warning signs of breast cancer much faster th ...
OCT 10, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
DNA Can Reveal Treatments for Lung Cancer in 'Never-Smoked' Patients
OCT 10, 2021
DNA Can Reveal Treatments for Lung Cancer in 'Never-Smoked' Patients
There is a well-known causal connection between smoking and lung cancer, and most research on lung cancer has been focus ...
OCT 28, 2021
Cancer
NF-κB: a Trick or a Treat for Cancer?
OCT 28, 2021
NF-κB: a Trick or a Treat for Cancer?
A family of proteins, known as transcription factors, regulate the biological process of converting DNA into RNA. T ...
NOV 12, 2021
Technology
Available Data for Cancer-Diagnosing AI Lacking Diverse Imagery
NOV 12, 2021
Available Data for Cancer-Diagnosing AI Lacking Diverse Imagery
The use of artificial intelligence to diagnose and monitor health conditions is on the rise. At its most basic level, AI ...
NOV 29, 2021
Microbiology
How the Hepatitis B Virus Promotes Liver Cancer Development
NOV 29, 2021
How the Hepatitis B Virus Promotes Liver Cancer Development
It's estimated that about 240 million people worldwide have an HBV infection. Hepatitis B infections are linked to t ...
Loading Comments...