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Cancer survivors 75 years and older: physical, emotional and practical needs


Objectives To describe physical, emotional and practical concerns and access to help of Canadian cancer survivors aged 75+ years following treatment.

Methods A survey was designed to identify concerns and access to help across three supportive care domains for cancer survivors 1–3 years post-treatment. Random samples were drawn from 10 provincial cancer registries. Survey packages were mailed to 40 790 survivors with option to reply by mail or online in French or English. Descriptive analysis was conducted.

Results In total, 3274 (25%) survivors aged 75+ years responded to the survey. Fifty-five per cent were men, 72% had not experienced metastatic spread and 75% reported comorbid conditions. Eighty-one per cent reported experiencing at least one physical concern, 63% experienced at least one emotional concern and 30% experienced at least one practical concern. The most commonly reported concerns were for two physical changes (fatigue 62% and bladder/urinary problems 39%) and one emotional change (anxiety/fear of recurrence 53%). More than 50% did not receive assistance for 15 concerns across the three domains. The most frequently cited reason for not seeking help for a concern was that they were told it was normal and they did not think anything could be done. Unmet needs existed for all physical, emotional and practical changes ranging from 41% to 88% of respondents.

Conclusions Many older adults are at risk for experiencing physical, emotional and practical concerns following cancer treatment yet are not obtaining help. Action is needed for early identification of these individuals to mitigate the impact of unmet needs for older cancer survivors.

  • survivorship
  • quality of life
  • rehabilitation
  • supportive care
  • transitional care

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer has full control of primary unidentifiable record level data and agrees to review of data if requested.

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