Tips on cancer survivorship and quality of life


Cancer patients undergo different treatments and have to move through different corridors of a hospital life as well as their home and office space in parallel existence where balancing the different spaces and taking treatment – whether surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy and then long follow ups including investigations periodically, is a juggle and affects their quality of life in different areas. Hence, cancer survivorship and quality of life are of utmost importance because while curing cancer is a primary goal, it is equally crucial to address the long-term effects of cancer treatment and the impact on patients’ lives post-treatment.

Tips on cancer survivorship and quality of life (Photo by Accuray on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Kumardeep Dutta Choudhury, Senior Consultant, Dept of Medical Oncology at Action Cancer Hospital in New Delhi’s Paschim Vihar, shared, “Cancer survivorship involves providing comprehensive care to patients beyond their cancer diagnosis and treatment. It includes managing physical, emotional, and psychosocial aspects of their well-being. After completing treatment, survivors may experience a range of physical issues such as fatigue, pain and neuropathy, which need to be managed effectively. Follow-up visits and regular health monitoring are essential to identify any recurrence or late effects of treatment early on. Moreover, addressing survivors’ emotional and psychosocial needs is critical. Many survivors experience anxiety, depression, fear of recurrence, and adjustment challenges. Supporting them through counseling, support groups, and survivorship programs can significantly improve their quality of life.”

Highlighting that maintaining a high quality of life for cancer survivors is a multifaceted approach, he said, “Empowering patients to adopt healthy lifestyle changes like a balanced diet and regular exercise can help manage treatment-related side effects and improve overall well-being. Additionally, managing pain and symptom control are essential aspects of care. As an oncologist, I believe in the significance of open communication with survivors. we ensure they understand their treatment options, potential side effects, and long-term effects. This helps them make informed decisions about their care. Lastly, recognising that each survivor’s journey is unique, personalised care is essential. Taking into account their individual needs, preferences, and concerns fosters a patient-centric approach, leading to better overall outcomes and an improved quality of life. By prioritising survivorship care and adopting a patient-centric approach, we can enhance the quality of life for cancer survivors, helping them thrive beyond their cancer journey.”

According to Dr Tejinder Kataria, Chairperson, Radiation Oncology and Cancer Center at Medanta – The Medicity, the Quality of Life (QOL) is a concept that includes the sense of well- being of a person or a population in their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, societal and financial domains. She suggested, “To assist a person undergoing such a life changing experience, the family, medical care givers and professional colleagues need to understand the challenges faced by such a person. Empathy and hand holding along with a caring attitude can improve the QOL of a cancer patient. Adequate nutrition, physical rehabilitation and physical therapy assist in improving the physical condition of the cancer patient. Psychological counselling and emotional support of family and friends strengthens the patient’s resolve to get well as well as adds meaning to their life.”

She added, “Financial planning for the family, future contingencies and insurance can go a long way in overcoming the worry of resources required for treatment. Music,dance and art are other tools to heal a person’s emotional well being during and after cancer treatment. The availability of advanced cancer care has translated into a large number of survivors especially for breast,prostate and childhood cancers. Child survivors QOL is a measure that the pediatric oncologists, radiation and surgical oncologists work together to maintain as they have a longer time period of survival compared to many adult survivors.”

Dr Ashu Kumar Jain, Head, Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Artemis Hospitals in Gurgaon, concluded, “An individual is considered a cancer survivor from time of diagnosis through the rest of life. Cancer survivor range from people having no disease after finishing treatment, people who continue to receive treatment to reduce risk of cancer coming back and people with well controlled disease. Survivorship focuses on health, physical, psychological, social and economic issues affecting people after end of primary treatment for cancer, which includes all aspects of holistic care. Survivorship care includes issues related to follow up care, management of late side effects of treatment, improving quality of life, psychological and emotional health.”


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