A new study has been released showing a causal link between time of cancer diagnosis and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This brand new study was first published in the journal Cancer on Monday. The emotional trauma patients experienced was noted to not only be pervasive but also extremely persistent.

According to recent research approximately 1 in 5 cancer patients have, unfortunately, been seen to develop signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This roughly occurs within six months of their initial diagnosis. A seemingly small amount of people who suffered from the initial symptoms of PTSD following a cancer diagnosis have been seen to still experience the effects of trauma up to six years post diagnosis.

What Do The Statistics Say?

Malaysian and Boston scientists both worked together to analyse 245 patients over an allocated time period of four years. Their research found that up to 22% of participants had developed some form of PTSD within the first six months of their diagnosis. A staggering 6% of these patients were found to still be experiencing severe symptoms of PTSD four years later. These symptoms included cognitive problems as well as psychological distress.

Expert Opinion

Well renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Fremonta Meyer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was a co-author to the study and spent a lot of time in overseeing the whole project. Dr. Meyer is quoted saying “This underscores the importance of building better programs for longer-term support for cancer patients… otherwise we’ll miss people who are really continuing to suffer emotionally.”.

Following this, the co-director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, Dr. Gary H. Lyman followed up by saying and we quote “But I wouldn’t be willing to dismiss this as something that may not apply to other settings, including other racial, ethnic, and social settings in the U.S. Dr. Gary H. Lyman followed this up by adding “I think this is a solid study, and one that’s going to get a fair amount of attention.”.

Moving Forward, What’s Being Done To Help Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients?

The news that 1 in 5 cancer patients eventually show signs and symptoms of PTSD is not a complete surprise to most professionals. The chairman for the department of psychiatry at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Dr. Alan Valentine weighed in his expert opinion by saying the following “Do we do as well as we should in following up on anxiety and depression? Probably not. We’re probably missing a bunch of people.” Dr. Valentine concluded by saying that it would please him if the study was replicated and the results of which then compared to the number of participants who are being tracked for long-term PTSD from patients in the current study.

It’s all too clear from the results of the research, conclusions drawn and reaction of multiple experts that there simply isn’t enough being done to ensure the healthy mental well-being of cancer patients after diagnosis. More time, funding and talk regarding these issues are desperately needed.

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