Healing after cancer: the importance of “supportive care”

How long does cancer last? According to the statistics, five years on average. Much longer for some patients, in whom the physical and psychological consequences of the disease are felt for many years. The cancerous cells have disappeared, the radiotherapy or chemotherapy sessions are over, and yet so many things remain to be treated.

The body tested by the treatments, the persistent pain, but also the damaged self-image, the hair that grows back painfully, the kilos that are difficult to lose or regain, the scars left by an operation, the sociability undermined…

Hence the crucial importance of what doctors call “oncological supportive care”. Physiotherapists, socio-aestheticians, dieticians, psychologists, acupuncturists, sophrologists, art therapists… So many professionals who can soothe, help regain their footing or simply listen.

A survey by its Societal Cancer Observatory

However, according to the League against cancer, only a small part of patients have access to this support. Published Tuesday, September 20, the survey of its Societal Cancer Observatory estimates that 24% of patients have never been referred to one of these supportive care since the beginning of their journey, despite sometimes disabling sequelae.

Among people suffering from chronic fatigue, very common after cancer, only 26% were referred to adapted physical activity, “even though it is the best recommended treatment”. For 19% of respondents, this renunciation is not assumed but suffered, for lack of finding a practitioner near them or for lack of financial means.

The cause is also sometimes due to a lack of coordination between health professionals., each seeing the patient solely through the prism of their specialty. “Unfortunately, the problem is likely to worsen further in the context of a major hospital crisis in France and medical desertification in certain territories”anticipates the president of the League against cancer, Daniel Nizri.

We often speak, and rightly so, of the ordeal of cancer, of the progress of research to improve the vital prognosis of patients, of the efforts made to make the announcement of the diagnosis less brutal. We talk less often about post-cancer and its repercussions, which are sometimes so heavy that they mortgage family lives or careers. For some, this battle is even more difficult to wage than that against the disease.

3 million cancer survivors

Better treatment of “after” ills: this is precisely one of the objectives set by the last ten-year plan to fight cancer, presented in February 2021 by the President of the Republic. The League Against Cancer is therefore taking advantage of this study to remind the public authorities of their promises, and of the need to implement the means to keep them, when France has 3 million cancer survivors. Rid of the disease certainly, but not cured for all that.

Healing after cancer: the importance of “supportive care”