The study conducted between June 2020 and December 2021 by Dr Ahmad Alam, Dr Jacob Hampton, Dr Christopher Rowe, Dr Elizabeth Fradgley, Professor Christine Paul and Associate Professor Christine O’Neill found the fear of cancer recurrence can be debilitating and trigger a myriad of mental health issues.
Key findings include:
- 33 per cent of thyroid cancer survivors experienced fatigue or anxiety – compared to 14 per cent of the Australian population.
- 18 per cent of thyroid cancer survivors experienced depression – compared to 6 per cent of the Australian population.
- 13 per cent of thyroid cancer survivors reported financial difficulty.
- 54 base line surveys (from Hunter New England Local Health District).
Associate Professor O’Neill, a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Fellow and specialist general surgeon in Newcastle said the fear of cancer recurrence is common in thyroid cancer survivors but disproportionate to true risk of recurrence. Rates of anxiety, depression and fear of cancer recurrence are similar in thyroid cancer to patients with other cancer types.
“There is so much fear associated with the word cancer, however, the rates of mortality for people with thyroid cancer are exceedingly low,” Associate Professor O’Neill said.
“There is an unmet need for psychological support for newly diagnosed patients with thyroid cancer.
“It’s a significant problem which is impacting the quality of life for thousands of Australians.
“It’s important thyroid cancer patients have access to a range of support services, including mental health programs, including at the time of diagnosis.
“As a profession, we can acknowledge that these fears are common and help our patients feel comfortable about seeking support, which should deliver better quality of life outcomes.”
Associate Professor O’Neill’s research will be unveiled at the the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress in Brisbane (2-6 May).
The Congress is the largest multi-disciplinary surgical meeting held in the southern hemisphere and brings together some of the top surgical and medical minds from across New Zealand, Australia, and the rest of the world.
For more information about the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress, please visit: https://asc.surgeons.org/
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