Thursday, October 13, 2011

40% of cancer survivors have PTSD symptoms

I was talking with a cancer survivor just the other night and he told me that he is frequently kept awake by terrible anxiety and fear. That's typical of cancer survivors, according to a new study which found that nearly 4 in 10 suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The symptoms, according to an article from Reuters, include "being extra jumpy, having disturbing thoughts about the cancer and its treatment, or feeling emotionally numb toward friends and family."

The study examined 566 patients who had been treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for signs of PTSD. Only 12 patients were found to be suffering from what Reuters calls "full-blown PTSD" but at least 37% had symptoms of trauma even years after their initial cancer diagnosis.

Why does this happen? Cancer can be a life-altering occurrence, leaving a patient in never-ending worry and anxiety. It's worse, the study found, for lower-income patients, who may not have the same resources to improve their health.

A good note in this: the study found that many oncologists ask not just about cancer symptoms but a patient's mental health, helping to lessen the potential for PTSD before it can set in and cause more long-term suffering.

Read more:

Many cancer survivors struggle with PTSD symptoms | Reuters

Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Long-Term Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivors: Does Time Heal? | The Journal of Clinical Oncology

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