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Cancer survivors report distress

Long-term cancer survivors are twice as likely to suffer psychological distress severe enough to disrupt a person's life as the general population, according to research.

A study in the US found that younger cancer survivors - those under the age of 65 - were more likely to experience problems, as were people who were not married or living with a partner.

Scientists studied survey data on 4,712 long-term adult survivors of cancer - those who were still alive five years or more after being diagnosed - and 126,841 people who had never had cancer.

The average age of survivors was 62 and the average age at which they were diagnosed was 47. Most had been treated for breast, gynaecological, male genitourinary and bowel cancers.

The findings showed that cancer survivors were twice as likely to report severe distress as adults who had never been diagnosed with cancer. The levels of psychological disturbance were sufficient to cause moderate to serious problems functioning in social or work situations.

Lead researcher Dr Karen Hoffman, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, said: "We hope these findings will raise awareness of the psychosocial needs of long-term cancer survivors and encourage routine psychological screening of these survivors."

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