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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 115-117

Special issue on the impact of cancer on patients and their families

Psycho-Oncology Research Group, Centre for Oncology Education and Research Translation (CONCERT), Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, University of New South, Liverpool, Australia

Date of Submission03-May-2016
Date of Acceptance10-May-2016
Date of Web Publication25-May-2016

Correspondence Address:
Janelle Levesque
Psycho-Oncology Research Group, Centre for Oncology Education and Research Translation (CONCERT), Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, University of New South, Liverpool
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2347-5625.182928

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How to cite this article:
Levesque J. Special issue on the impact of cancer on patients and their families. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs 2016;3:115-7

How to cite this URL:
Levesque J. Special issue on the impact of cancer on patients and their families. Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Jan 17];3:115-7. Available from: https://www.apjon.org/text.asp?2016/3/2/115/182928

Dr. Levesque is a Senior Online Instructor at Monash University, and Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales, where she collaborates with the Psycho-Oncology Research Group, Centre for Oncology Education and Research Translation. She received her Bachelor of Psychology (Honors) at Charles Sturt University, Australia, in 2005, Graduate Certificate in Research Management from Southern Cross University, Australia, in 2008, and Doctor of Philosophy at Charles Sturt University, Australia, in 2012.

Her research focuses on psycho-oncology, examining the psychological issues associated with a cancer diagnosis, care, and survivorship for patients and their family. She has examined post-traumatic growth in the adult children of cancer patients and its relationship to other psychological outcomes, and has worked on psychological interventions to assist couples in the immediate postdiagnostic period. Her latest work includes incorporating patient reported outcomes data into medical records to improve communication between patients and health-care professionals, and to facilitate timely psychosocial care. She has jointly published 18 peer-reviewed publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has 21 conference presentations at Australian and international conferences.

The diagnosis of cancer has a significant impact, not just on the patient, but on their spouse/partner, family, and broader social network. While there is a great variation in survival rates worldwide, improvements in cancer detection and treatment have seen a general trend toward enhanced survival outcomes. [1] Despite this improvement, cancer has the potential to provoke strong psychological reactions in patients, with the potential for long-term effects, and a significant proportion of patients with cancer will develop psychological comorbidity. [2],[3],[4],[5] For spouses/partners and other family caregivers, there is documented evidence to suggest that cancer impacts on biological, psychological, and social domains. [6],[7],[8],[9],[10] The offspring of patients with cancer may also face the unique challenge of confronting their own cancer risk, which can be psychologically challenging. [11],[12] This special issue aims to present a diverse range of research and reviews, across the biopsychosocial spectrum, examining how cancer impacts on both the patients and their family members.

The study by Yeh and Lee examines the relationship between stress, anxiety, and depression, and their potential predictive value in identifying women at elevated risk of developing breast cancer. While this is a controversial area in psycho-oncology with conflicting evidence, this study highlights the importance of considering psychological issues as risk factors for the development of cancer. The review by Law et al. also highlights the need to consider biopsychosocial contributors to cancer development, progression, and well-being of both patients and caregivers by highlighting the potential association between cancer, stress, and telomeres.

Several articles in this special issue explore the experiences and challenges of cancer patients and carers through the lens of cultural diversity. The review by Chou et al. highlights the value of group-based interventions for Asian breast cancer patients, finding strong interest for such interventions and the belief that support groups will aid adjustment to cancer. Alanzehah et al. summarize the literature examining supportive care needs for Arab patients and caregivers, highlighting the relative lack of literature in this area while identifying tentative themes of unmet needs. The article by Polek and Hardie examines fatalistic beliefs in Asian-Americans, identifying the high levels of fatalism in this sub-population, while highlighting the potential teachable moment in addressing misconceptions about cancer within this minority group. Finally, Baider and Goldzweig highlight the importance of considering cross-cultural issues in multicultural societies by presenting the case example of a Muslim woman with breast cancer in Israel.

As the number of people affected by cancer increases, there is a strong need to provide adequate psychosocial support, and one avenue to achieve this is by targeting people at highest risk. The article by Taniguchi and Mizuno examines stress and coping in postsurgical cancer patients, finding that patients receiving adjuvant therapy or with a physical functional disorder experience higher stress. Soleimani et al. further identified that high death anxiety negatively impacts the quality of life, especially for women, suggesting another suitable target for intervention. Chakrabarty et al. have demonstrated that emotional disturbance can be reduced through the practice of pranayama in patients receiving treatment.

The editorial by Bultz provides a historical overview of psychosocial cancer care and outlines future goals for professionals working in this field. Importantly, we must consider whether psychosocial care services are both efficacious and provide value for money so that we can argue for an appropriate share of the health budget. A review by Jensen et al. looks at the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility data, concluding that the psychosocial care is likely to offer value for money, however they also raise the issue of targeting interventions to maximize cost-effectiveness. The article by Zannettino et al. reports on an innovative program that aims to enhance empathy and insight into the patients and their family experience in undergraduate nurses as a way to ensure health-care professionals deliver appropriate psychosocial care as a part of their routine practice.

As the incidence of cancer continues to grow, greater focus is needed to ensure that patients are not only surviving cancer, but living well. Furthermore, we can no longer ignore the impact that cancer has on the family members who also report numerous biopsychosocial challenges. Special issues in core publications such as the Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing help to shine the light on this crucial area of research and practice, now and hopefully well in the future.

  References Top

Allemani C, Weir HK, Carreira H, Harewood R, Spika D, Wang XS, et al. Global surveillance of cancer survival 1995-2009: Analysis of individual data for 25,676,887 patients from 279 population-based registries in 67 countries (CONCORD-2). Lancet 2015;385:977-1010.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mehnert A, Koch U. Psychological comorbidity and health-related quality of life and its association with awareness, utilization, and need for psychosocial support in a cancer register-based sample of long-term breast cancer survivors. J Psychosom Res 2008;64:383-91.  Back to cited text no. 2
Nakash O, Levav I, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, Andrade LH, Angermeyer MC, et al. Comorbidity of common mental disorders with cancer and their treatment gap: Findings from the World Mental Health Surveys. Psychooncology 2014;23:40-51.  Back to cited text no. 3
Krebber AM, Buffart LM, Kleijn G, Riepma IC, de Bree R, Leemans CR, et al. Prevalence of depression in cancer patients: A meta-analysis of diagnostic interviews and self-report instruments. Psychooncology 2014;23:121-30.  Back to cited text no. 4
Hong JS, Tian J. Prevalence of anxiety and depression and their risk factors in Chinese cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 2014;22:453-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
Girgis A, Lambert S, Johnson C, Waller A, Currow D. Physical, psychosocial, relationship, and economic burden of caring for people with cancer: A review. J Oncol Pract 2013;9:197-202.  Back to cited text no. 6
Lambert SD, Girgis A, Lecathelinais C, Stacey F. Walking a mile in their shoes: Anxiety and depression among partners and caregivers of cancer survivors at 6 and 12 months post-diagnosis. Support Care Cancer 2013;21:75-85.  Back to cited text no. 7
Mitchell AJ, Ferguson DW, Gill J, Paul J, Symonds P. Depression and anxiety in long-term cancer survivors compared with spouses and healthy controls: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Oncol 2013;14:721-32.  Back to cited text no. 8
Northouse L, Williams AL, Given B, McCorkle R. Psychosocial care for family caregivers of patients with cancer. J Clin Oncol 2012;30:1227-34.  Back to cited text no. 9
Levesque JV, Maybery D. Parental cancer: Catalyst for positive growth and change. Qual Health Res 2012;22:397-408.  Back to cited text no. 10
Eijzenga W, Hahn DE, Aaronson NK, Kluijt I, Bleiker EM. Specific psychosocial issues of individuals undergoing genetic counseling for cancer - A literature review. J Genet Couns 2014;23:133-46.  Back to cited text no. 11
Gopie JP, Vasen HF, Tibben A. Surveillance for hereditary cancer: Does the benefit outweigh the psychological burden? - A systematic review. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol 2012;83:329-40.  Back to cited text no. 12

  Authors Top

Janelle Levesque


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