The Challenges of Colorectal Cancer Survivorship

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  • a From the Departments of Medical Oncology and Nursing, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • 2 Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

With advances in treatment, colorectal cancer (CRC) is being transformed from a deadly disease into an illness that is increasingly curable. With this transformation has come increased interest in the unique problems, risks, needs, and concerns of survivors who have completed treatment and are cancer-free. Research has shown that physical and mental quality of life for CRC survivors was inferior compared with age-matched individuals without cancer. Although issues and symptoms were most prominent during the first 3 years, long-term effects of treatment can persist and include fatigue, sleep difficulty, fear of recurrence, anxiety, depression, negative body image, sensory neuropathy, gastrointestinal problems, urinary incontinence, and sexual dysfunction. The unique challenges and issues of CRC survivors can and should be addressed by health care providers and the research community to ensure effective interventions and models of care to manage these problems. This article discusses what is known about the long-term effects of CRC treatment on quality of life, the care of survivors, and existing models of survivorship care.

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Correspondence: Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, Department of Medical Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111. E-mail: crystal.denlinger@fccc.eduDisclosure: Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, has disclosed that she has received research funding from Merrimack Pharmaceuticals for phase I clinical trials and from Genentech, Inc. for unrelated clinical trials.Disclosure: Andrea M. Barsevick, RN, PhD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.Disclosure: Kerrin G. Robinson, MA, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
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