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Recovery Issues in Cancer Survivorship: A New Challenge for Supportive Care

Alfano, Catherine M. PhDa; Rowland, Julia H. PhDb


The growing population of cancer survivors represents a clear challenge to clinicians and researchers to look beyond the search for a cure and to address the multifaceted needs of those living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis. Common sequelae that disrupt the psychosocial aspects of life for adult cancer survivors after primary treatment include: fatigue; cognitive changes; body image; sexual health and functioning; infertility; fear of recurrence; PTSD and stress syndromes; family/caregiver distress; socioeconomic issues; and distress, anxiety, and depression. Psychosocial interventions, particularly group-based interventions and physical activity programs, have shown great promise in improving these outcomes. Future research will identify even better targeted, more efficacious, and more cost effective programs and disseminate them into cancer care settings. Healthcare providers must realize that they serve as vital gatekeepers to services that will help optimize cancer survivors' psychosocial as well as physical outcomes. Addressing these issues in the post-treatment period represents the new challenge to supportive care.

aThe Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center & School of Public Health, Columbus, Ohio

bOffice of Cancer Survivorship, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, NIH/DHHS, Bethesda, Maryland.

Reprint requests: Catherine M. Alfano, PhD, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center & School of Public Health, A343 Starling Loving Hall, 320 West 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210.


No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article. During much of the preparation of this manuscript, Dr. Alfano was with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (CA92408). This manuscript represents an adaptation of a chapter by the authors for: Bowen D, Miller S, Croyle R, Rowland J (eds.), Handbook of Behavioral Oncology, American Psychological Association Press, in press.

Received on July 27, 2006; accepted for publication August 15, 2006.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.