Cancer survivors referred to a long-term survivorship outpatient service within academic medical oncology: descriptive study

Abstract

Purpose

Long-term cancer survivors (LTCS) are a vulnerable and continued growing population. To date, only few studies have been conducted in the Spanish population; none of them with a comprehensive analysis of the most common problems identified for cancer survivors in order to improve their care and quality of life.

Methods

We conducted an observational descriptive study in 347 patients recruited between January 2015 and December 2016 from our newly created medical office for the specific care and follow-up of LTCS. Variables that describe the medical history were completed by the oncologist and measures on common problems previously reported for LTCS, related to cancer diagnosis and treatment, function, lifestyle, and emotional concerns, were collected from the patient.

Results

The mean age of our patients was 65.1 years at the time of the study and a median time without any antitumor treatment of 5.7 years. At the time of cancer diagnosis, 298 patients (85.9%) had at least one related chronic disease and 184 patients (53%) were retired. In addition, in 17.9% of those who continued working, income had been reduced. The incidence of health problems showed an increase during follow-up, even after 5 years, and required evaluation in an emergency department in 157 cases (45.3%). Regardless of age or sex, 239 patients (68.9%) had a significant decrease in sexual activity and 120 (34.6%) were diagnosed with clinical depression.

Conclusions

LTCS are patients with significantly high socioeconomic, labor, sexual, health, and psychological problems, 5 years after completion of cancer treatment, especially in older survivors.

Implications for Cancer Survivor

Common concerns of LTCS were identified and are consistent across many countries. It is important to realize that even 5 or so years following treatment, both medical and non-medical problems can exist and may need attention by an expert.

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Fig. 1

Abbreviations

CI:

Confidence interval

HADS:

Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale

IQR:

Interquartile range

FIGO:

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics

LTCS:

Long-term cancer survivor

REDECAN:

Spanish Network of Cancer Registries

SEOM:

Society of Medical Oncology

SF:

Short form

OR:

Odds ratio

VAS:

Visual analogue scale

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Correspondence to Alejandro Gallego.

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Gallego, A., Martínez, B., Ghanem, I. et al. Cancer survivors referred to a long-term survivorship outpatient service within academic medical oncology: descriptive study. J Cancer Surviv (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11764-020-00973-w

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Keywords

  • Long-term Cancer Survivor
  • Follow-up
  • Quality of life
  • Care plan