Now that cancer treatment is over, your oncologist has probably given you the okay to resume as much activity as you can handle. Still, there might be some lingering cancer treatment side effects that are keeping you from doing so.
Ongoing Research Regarding Long-term Treatment Effects
Fortunately, there’s good news. According to the National Cancer Institute, the cancer survival rates have increased and will continue to do so, with an estimated 20.3 million survivors by 2026— an increase of 31% (more than 4 million survivors) over a 10-year period. Because of this steady increase in cancer survival rates, the survivors’ quality of life has become an area of greater focus.
Take this study conducted by the University of Australia, for example, where researchers analyzed the pharmaceutical records of nearly 4,000 prostate cancer survivors over the span of 11 years (2003-2014). The results showed that survivors who were treated with a common prostate cancer therapy were at a higher risk of developing various conditions, including diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, high blood cholesterol (hyperlipidaemia), inflammatory/painful conditions, and gastric acid disorders after their cancer treatment ended.
Another study concluded that gynecological cancer survivors who had undergone radiation experienced more urinary, gastrointestinal, and sexual side effects after cancer treatment than survivors who did not receive radiation therapy.
Due to this high interest regarding the side effects survivors can experience, more research is being conducted to better understand which treatments produce fewer side effects after treatment is over.
Side Effects that Cancer Survivors May Experience
Side effects vary among cancer survivors. Some people experience no side effects at all while others deal with side effects that are long-term. Some long-term side effects of cancer treatment can include:
- Heart problems
- Mental fogginess
- Sexual health issues
- Sleeping disorders
- Dental disorders
If you are experiencing any of these side effects or any type of pain, be sure to talk with your oncologist or another member of your cancer care team. In addition to their help, they will be able to provide you with resources so you can connect with other survivors who understand what you are going through. With the right support, you can work toward being able to better manage long-term side effects.