|The following article features coverage from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.
The end of active cancer treatment is an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful and uncertain transition phase for young cancer patients. In a study presented at ESMO Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, researchers evaluated the experiences and needs of young people at the end of cancer treatment.
A better understanding of patient perspectives at this understudied timepoint could help health care providers to better support young cancer survivors. The current study was a multi-stage, mixed methods study. It included a total of 11 young people within 12 months of end of treatment. Participants took part in a semistructured telephone or face interview. The study researchers then transcribed each interview and evaluated them for recurrent themes.
Three key themes emerged from the study. Young cancer survivors faced concerns regarding: 1) social reintegration, 2) balancing their expectations verses the reality of end of treatment, 3) a feeling of sudden loss of the “safe bubble” of treatment. Some patients reported a concern that they would no longer “fit in” with their previous peer groups, leading to a feeling of isolation. They were also uncertain how to manage their own expectations and the expectation of others about how they would feel at the end of treatment, verses how they actually felt physically and psychosocially.
Interestingly, young survivors were also fearful about not being surrounded by health care professionals and shared a sense of loss in the realization that routine hospital visits were no longer required. “Having a better understanding of the unpredictable and ongoing nature of both physical and psychosocial issues [young survivors] may face at the end of treatment would be beneficial, as would reassurance that challenges during this transition period are both acceptable and expected,” noted the investigators.
Lea S, Martins A, Bassett M, et al. Young people’s experiences when active cancer treatment ends. Presented at: ESMO Congress 2019; September 27-October 1, 2019; Barcelona, Spain. Abstract CN47.