(NC) After six months of hormone therapy, and 38 doses of radiation, Jim Dorsey thought he'd finished with the treatment for his prostate cancer. Nearly 15 years later, he's a cancer survivor – but he's still feeling the effects of treatment.
“I didn't realize that there would be long-term side effects from the treatment,” says Dorsey, who lives in Brampton, Ont. “I needed five more years of hormone therapy after my radiation, and I'm now experiencing arthritis and joint pain that my doctor partially attributes to my cancer treatment.”
Today, an increasing number of Canadians are living longer with cancer, but many people are not aware that the disease can become a chronic condition for many patients. As many as 63 per cent of cancer patients live longer than five years after diagnosis, and that number increases to 81 per cent if the patient survives past one year. But according to a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN), many of us think that only 47 per cent of cancer patients survive longer than five years, indicating that we are not acutely aware of cancer as a chronic condition.
Many patients can experience side effects for years after their treatment, including bone loss, heart disease and arthritis. Patients also worry about whether or not treatment for these side effects and conditions are covered by their provincial health plans. While access to coverage and medicines frequently differs from province to province, 85 per cent of Canadians believe that medicines to treat side effects of cancer should be publicly covered.
“Viewing cancer as a chronic condition requires a huge shift in the way we treat our patients,” says Jackie Manthorne, president and CEO of CCSN. “We need to make sure that the public is aware of this change, and that our system adapts to meet the long-term needs of people throughout their cancer journey.”
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Sources: Canadian Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014. Canadian Cancer Society. 2014: 59.
Canadian Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014. Canadian Cancer Society. 2014: 61.
Canadian Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014. Canadian Cancer Society. 2014: 59.