Introduction and aims There are an estimated 2 million cancer survivors in the UK today, with earlier diagnosis and improved treatments leading to an increasing number of long-term survivors. Partners and/or close family members are often a key source of support to the patient, and yet they themselves may experience significant levels of distress and have unmet needs. The main aim of this study was to describe the supportive care needs of the partners/ family members of patients who had survived breast, colorectal or prostate cancer for at least 5 years.
Method This study was linked to a study of cancer survivors, recruited via cancer registries in the Thames Valley and North Yorkshire areas. Patients were asked to invite their partner or close family member to participate in a postal questionnaire. The questionnaire measured health status (EQ5D), levels of anxiety and depression (HADS), unmet needs (CASPUN) and positive outcomes.
Results 257 (78%) completed questionnaires were returned. Overall, levels of anxiety and depression were comparable with population norms. Accessible hospital parking (20%), information about familial risk (18%), managing fear of recurrence (16%) and co-ordination of care (14%) were the most cited unmet needs.
Conclusions Most partners/family members of long term survivors report few ongoing issues. However, a minority do have high levels of anxiety and/or moderate or strong unmet needs. Strategies are required to identify and support those with needs, while allowing the majority to resume normal life beyond cancer.
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