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Livestrong™ Poll Finds Nearly Half of People Living with Cancer Feel their Non-Medical Needs are Unmet by the Healthcare System

Poll Also Finds People Living With Cancer Are Optimistic About Life; 59 Percent Expect To Die From Something Other Than Cancer

AUSTIN, Texas — November 30, 2004 — Nearly half (49 percent) of people living with cancer feel their non-medical cancer needs are currently unmet by the healthcare system, according to the LIVESTRONG™ Poll, a national poll released today by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF).

The comprehensive poll measures the perceptions and attitudes of more than 1,000 people living with cancer nationwide. Of the 10 million people in the U.S. living with cancer right now, roughly half believe the healthcare system is not addressing their critical needs. Among those who felt their non-medical cancer needs were unmet, 70 percent said their oncologists did not offer any support in dealing with the non-medical aspects of cancer. Issues related to these secondary aspects of cancer can include depression, fear of recurrence, chronic pain, ongoing health challenges, infertility, sexual dysfunction, difficulty with relationships and financial or job insecurity. The other 30 percent said their oncologist was willing to talk about these issues, but did not have enough information or experience to really help them out in this area.

These findings reaffirm the serious need for all of us in the cancer community to take a deeper look at how we can further support people living with cancer with the research, information and tools to help them deal with the emotional, practical and physical effects of the disease," said Doug Ulman, director of survivorship, LAF. “Medical innovations have led to earlier diagnosis and improved treatment of cancers, resulting in more people surviving cancer every year. But the increase in survival rates creates a unique set of challenges for these people to deal with throughout their diagnosis, treatment and the rest of their lives." The critical need for support beyond treatment is evidenced by the fact that more than half (53 percent) of respondents said they agree that the practical and emotional consequences of dealing with cancer are often harder than the medical issues. "The emotional drain from the whole ordeal is something that’s most difficult to deal with and no one really understands what you have to go through,” said one respondent. Another respondent said, “I wish they would talk to me more about the emotional and mental challenges cancer brings with it, physically they help me deal, but mentally and emotionally I feel lost and alone."

Lack of Resources for Emotional Support

The poll also found that people living with cancer lack resources for emotional support. One third (33 percent) of people living with cancer said some or very few resources were available to meet their emotional needs directly connected to the cancer, compared to 28 percent for practical issues, like finance and work, 23 percent for physical issues and 14 percent for medical issues. Furthermore, people living with cancer are not actively seeking out emotional support services. Seventy percent of respondents said they had to deal with depression as a result of their cancer, and among those who dealt with depression 88 percent said they’ve had some level of difficulty dealing with the issue. However, 78 percent of respondents said they did not seek out the services of a counselor, social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist as a result of having cancer. This signals a possible problem with the health care system’s ability to direct people living with cancer on how to access these critical services.

Optimistic Attitude about Cancer’s Role

Encouragingly, people living with cancer are optimistic about life. Nearly three out of every five (59 percent) of the respondents say they expect to die from something completely different than cancer. And, not surprisingly, people living with cancer say their lives have changed as a result of the disease, with 57 percent agreeing that cancer may leave their body, but it will always be a part of their life. “Dealing with cancer is an experience that changes people’s lives forever,” said Ulman.

“But the good news is your life doesn’t have to revolve around the cancer. Advances in medical treatment are allowing people to live their life on their terms without letting cancer dictate it.” What is surprising is that, for some, cancer has had a positive effect on their lives. Almost half (47 percent) agreed that in some strange way dealing with their cancer diagnosis forced them to focus and they feel they’re leading a better life now. Plus, more than half want to share their experience with others. Fifty-six percent agreed that they now take a more active role in speaking up about cancer and urging people to get screened. “It’s great news to see that people living with cancer have embraced life and the idea of living strong,” said Ulman. “The Foundation’s and Lance Armstrong’s mantra of Live Strong is about having the information, the attitude and the strength to live every day to its fullest on your own terms. We believe this is more than a slogan; it’s a way of life. And it’s gratifying to see that we’re echoing the feelings of the community we serve.”

Additional Findings
Additional survey data is available upon request on secondary medical, financial, job and relationship issues for people living with cancer.

Methodology
On behalf of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Public Strategies, Inc. and SS+K conducted a survey of 1,020 self-identified cancer survivors in October 2004. The survey was conducted using e-Rewards online panel. The margin of error for the survey is ±3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval.

About the Lance Armstrong Foundation
The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) believes that in your battle with cancer, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. From the moment of diagnosis we provide the practical information and tools you need to live strong. We serve our mission through public health, advocacy, research and education, including Live Strong, the LAF’s comprehensive resource for people living with cancer. The LAF was founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong and is located in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit: www.laf.org or www.livestrong.org


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