Awareness About Cancer Can Double Survival Rates
According to a new study, cancer treatment nearly doubles in success when patients receive plenty of information about their disease. It seems the more a patient knows, the better the outcome will be.
Dr Caroline Kamau of Birkbeck, Univeristy of London, investigated how much clinicians could help cancer patients by preparing them for “the tough realities of balancing a job with cancer treatment.” She analysed nearly 3,500 patients, using data from the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey which was carried out by the Department of Health in 2013-14. She looked at how often patients received information that increased their understanding of their condition, and how this seemed to impact their work life and education.
The investigation revealed that working patients who receive information about their disease, its treatment and its impact on working life are almost twice as likely to experience a positive outcome as those who do not. In this study, a “positive outcome” was defined as “completing treatment with no further signs or symptoms”.
Dr Kamau concluded that being adequately informed reduces stress for cancer patients, which is helpful because stress only aggravates illnesses and health conditions. Receiving more information also equips patients with strategies to help them cope during their illness.
She then corroborated her initial findings with a secondary analysis of an even larger number of patients. This time she analysed 6,700 patients and again, found that those who were given more information about their disease were more likely to experience a positive outcome.
Dr Kamau says that although she focused on working cancer patients, she believes results should be the same for non-working individuals. However, she adds that she thinks working in itself can be part of what helps patients to overcome their illness.
“Employment comes with key psychological benefits,” she says. “Working during cancer is the ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ You maintain your pre-diagnosis professional identity and you continue to access the social support that comes with being at work. Work boosts wellbeing in ways that can help sustain patients with cancer through difficult times.”