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Social Support and Quality of Life During Cancer Treatment

Lean on me when you're not strong

Bill Withers had it right when he sang, “We all need somebody to lean on.” But can we assume patients with a strong social group at cancer diagnosis still have the support they need to carry on a year or two after surgery?

A total of 857 patients with colorectal cancer participated in the CREW cohort study, published in Psycho-Oncology. At baseline, 3, 9, 15, and 24 months postsurgery, researchers assessed social support and health-related quality of life. From baseline to 2 years, almost a third of patients felt their social support had declined and 8% reported very low levels of support. As a result, these patients experienced poor generic health and QoL, reduced well-being, depression, and anxiety. Female gender, older age, greater neighborhood deprivation, co-morbidities, and rectal cancer increased chances of patients feeling a lack of social support. The authors conclude, “Assessment of support early on and throughout follow-up would enable targeted interventions to improve recovery, particularly in the more vulnerable patient groups at risk of poorer social support.”

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