Survivors Of Breast Cancer Suffer Treatment-Related Side Effects Long After Completing Care:
More than 60 percent of breast cancer survivors report at least one treatment-related complication even six years after their diagnosis, according to a new study led by a researcher from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The findings are part of a special issue of Cancer devoted to exploring the physical late effects of breast cancer treatment and creating strategies to prevent, monitor for, and treat these conditions in the nation's 2.6 million survivors of the disease.
"Our work provides the first accounting of the true magnitude of the post-treatment problems suffered by breast cancer patients, and serves as a call to action for proper monitoring and rehabilitation services to care for them," said Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology who serves as a senior scientist on the committee overseeing creation of a surveillance model for breast cancer survivors. "We can no longer pretend that the side effects of breast cancer treatment end after patients finish active treatment. The scope of these complications is shocking and upsetting, but a ready solution for many of them already exists in rehabilitative exercise."
It's of some comfort to me that the long-lasting side effects are increasingly being recognized and acknowledged by the medical community. While they are experienced by many (most?), I think they are largely dismissed and, post-treatment, people become increasingly reluctant to speak of them for various reasons. I could elaborate on the many reasons why someone might keep their discomfort to themselves but I won't go into that here. Suffice it to say, that I hope post treatment programs increase as a result of this and other related studies.
Obviously, treatment doesn't just take a year of your life, which is what I was mostly led to believe. And yes, despite the many issues, I am very grateful and happy to be alive, which doesn't negate the fact that I have last some things that I mourn and I have had to accept changes that I wasn't ready for.