A U.S. study found that lifelong psychological scars akin can be left by a cancer diagnosis to those influenced by wars.
Sophia Smith at the Duke Center Institute, who led the study, said, of the 10 survivors diagnosed with cancer reported that they were still experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
Those symptoms include emotional numbness towards family and friends, disturbing thoughts about the disease and its cure, or being more nervous.
1 in 10 survivors said they no longer think about their cancer and 1 in 20 said they completely avoided activities or situation that reminded them of cancer, a circumstance that could probably turn into a health problem.
For the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 566 individuals with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were surveyed by the Smith’s team for symptoms of PTSD once before, predicting that 1 in 12 had developed PTSD. A trio of symptoms was involved for the diagnosis, which included flashbacks, arousal and avoidance.
The latest survey not only showed that the participants had one or more symptoms of PTSD, but also their persistence.
On the whole, 50% of the participants had no symptoms of PTSD over 13 years post diagnosis. The PTSD symptoms waned in 12%, however, had persisted or aggravated in 37%.
The researchers also suggested that depression is more common than PTSD among cancer survivors.
The recent survey shows that people with low-income are more susceptible to the cancer’s psychological impact on living.
Smith concluded: “The study primly applies to those patients with less resources or who are poor and the doctors have to recognize distress more efficiently in such patients.”
She added, “Each time patients come in doctors should not only ask them about their pain experience but also ask them about their stress experience.”