Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A study looking at the rehabilitation needs of people who have had cancer of the digestive system or gynaecological cancer
This was a study to find out more about the rehabilitation needs of people who’d had cancer treatment. The people taking part had a gynaecological cancer or a cancer in the upper part of the
Following cancer treatment, some people may have long term physical and emotional difficulties. These can affect their health and quality of life, making it difficult to return to the life they had before. Getting back to normal can be called a process of rehabilitation.
In this study, researchers wanted to learn more about the rehabilitation needs people have after cancer treatment.
Summary of results
The researchers found that support and information is important to help people get back to normal.
The study recruited 33 people who took part in 1 of 5 focus groups. They had all had treatment for a gynaecological cancer or a cancer in the upper part of the digestive system. And they all had some physical or emotional problems related to having cancer.
In the focus groups, people discussed what they understood about rehabilitation and what they thought helped them get back to normal. The researchers analysed the discussions and found there were 4 main themes.
The impact on the person highlighted how people lost their confidence and felt uncertain after treatment. The most common problems people talked about were physical weakness (debility), weight loss, tiredness (fatigue) and problems thinking (cognitive ability).
Adjustment after treatment showed that anxiety and low mood could also be barriers to coping and getting back to normal.
Individualised tailored support is something that can help people to adjust and feel less isolated. But some people were unsure who to contact for support. And some felt there was a lack of support at the end of their treatment.
Information sources were discussed. Some people felt they’d been given too much information at the wrong time. Others said they would have liked more information earlier. Most felt that it was too general for them.
The researchers found that peoples’ needs for information and support varied, as did their awareness of the rehabilitation services available to them. People who’d had surgery or had been in hospital for longer were more likely to have come into contact with healthcare professionals who could help with their rehabilitation and to be aware of what was available.
Many of the people in this study thought their follow up appointments focused more on looking for early signs of the cancer coming back and checking what they were able to do, rather than asking about their
Seeking a new normal was the phrase the researchers used to describe the overall message from the groups. They found that people needed individualised support at the end of treatment and suggested that things could be improved with more professional guidance.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Clare Shaw
The Royal Marsden Charitable Panel
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust