Survivorship in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer: Challenges Faced and Steps Forward

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Improvements in curative therapies and the advent of screening have led to increased numbers of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) survivors. Most survivors have undergone invasive treatment (surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy) and carry a higher comorbidity burden than survivors of other cancers. Overall quality of life (QOL) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) suffer during the treatment phase, with the potential for long-term decline, and both clinical characteristics and treatment impact these measures. Physical and mental components of HRQOL seem to be most at risk for decline. The issues faced by survivors include physical symptoms such as respiratory issues, fatigue, hearing loss, neuropathy, and postsurgical pain; psychological distress leading to depression, financial issues, and poor compliance with recommended guidelines; and fear or risk of recurrence and secondary malignancies. This article summarizes the major issues faced by NSCLC survivors and suggests appropriate management. Future collaborative efforts are needed to further elucidate the complex issues that affect overall QOL and HRQOL in NSCLC survivors and to develop appropriate interventions in this large and diverse survivor population.

Correspondence: Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, Department of Medical Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111. E-mail: crystal.denlinger@fccc.edu

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