Last week, the fourth national (and the largest so far) Cancer Survivorship Conference took place in Sydney, Australia. Speakers and guests explored the theme of “Future of Cancer Survivorship: Evolution or Revolution?”, covering topics such as:
Cost of cancer – at an individual and societal level
Cardio-toxicity of cancer treatment and cardiovascular disease after cancer
Sexuality and cancer
Support of carers and family needs
Living with cancer recurrence
Cancer Council NSW were platinum sponsors of the event, proud to support the growing conversation around issues facing cancer survivors, carers and health professionals. Finding a new way of living, a ‘new normal’, after cancer treatment can take time and present many challenges.
Cancer Council NSW was represented well with presentations both on stage and as display posters.
Prostate cancer survivorship: examining long-term self-reported quality of life and unmet supportive care needs in the second post-treatment decade – Carolyn G Mazariego, Senior Research Assistant
Carolyn Mazariego presented at the conference on a piece of ongoing Cancer Council NSW research looking at self-reported, health-related quality of life outcomes and unmet supportive care needs in a cohort of men with previously diagnosed prostate cancer, and their partners. The findings to date show that 15 years after prostate cancer diagnosis, men are still experiencing quality of life issues in the domains of sexual function, urinary incontinence and bowel function. Men and their partners are also expressing the need to ensure clinicians are working together to coordinate care. Her presentation suggested that follow-up care in the second post-treatment decade is still needed, and a proportion of prostate cancer survivors may benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to long-term cancer care. The final results and analyses from this project are expected to be published in late 2019.
In this poster, Laura Muir explored the evaluation of Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program and its role in helping Australian cancer survivors tackle significant challenges in the workplace and return to work following a cancer diagnosis. Since its inception in 2010, the program has received referrals for 1153 people experiencing difficulties in the workplace or seeking to return to work. The program connects cancer patients, survivors and carers with free professional support, so they can better understand their rights and negotiate with their employer, enabling them to manage their employment situation in light of their cancer diagnosis and enter or return to a suitable workplace. Laura was proud to announce that within the first year, the program received a 50% increase in referrals for workplace and recruitment advice and figures have remained steady since then.
Laura Gilmour displayed a poster with an evaluation of improvements made to Cancer Council’s ENRICHing Survivorship program, an educational program available to people over 18 who have completed active cancer treatment. The additions include the introduction of 2 new sessions, peer support and yoga. Laura was extremely happy to announce that the ENRICHing Survivorship program had received rave reviews from its participants. 90% of participants agreed it was helpful to be around others who were in a similar situation to themselves. While self-rated improvements in psychological health were reported by most participants; 78% felt less worried and anxious, 82% felt less sad and depressed.
Read more about our ENRICHing Survivorship program.
In her poster, Jill unpacked the results of a new study involving a systematic review and focus groups exploring the challenges and unmet needs experienced by the Australian Chinese community affected by cancer. She talked to new insights provided by the study into the impact of language, culture and health literacy barriers on unmet information and support needs of the Chinese community affected by cancer living in Australia. The findings lend weight to the idea that the community will benefit from accurate information about cancer and personal stories of cancer survivors in their native language. This in turn resulted in the development of in-language webinars & resources which have now been produced and are available online and on DVD.
By 2040, we estimate that there will be almost 1.9 million people with a personal history of cancer. That is, 1 in 18 Australians will have been diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. We’re so proud to be an integral part of progressing the discussion around the evolving needs of these cancer survivors. Survivorship is a portion of the cancer journey that is often overlooked but still holds significant challenges for those going through it.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, be sure to get in early when registration opens for the next conference in 2021!