Our latest Health update from Melissa Hathaway

Study Finds Gender Gap in Cancer Survival Rates

A recent report from Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed the welcome news that today there are around 400,000 people in England that have survived for between ten and twenty years after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

More women are surviving longer

However, the research, which was carried out in conjunction with the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), has also found evidence of a gender gap in the longer term survival rates. While survival rates are similar for both men and women in the first few years after a cancer diagnosis, there are apparently almost twice as many women still alive than men between ten and twenty years later.

The Daily Express suggests that this might be the result of recent medical advancements in the treatment of breast cancer, which have meant that it now has a much better survival rate than many other types of cancer. As breast cancer is more common amongst women than men, its increasing survival rate could be boosting up the overall cancer survival rate for women.

Macmillan and NCIN are apparently to look into this gender gap in survival rates in greater detail in the next phase of their study.

Poor health in cancer patients

Some cancer patients continue to suffer poor health after their cancer has been treated, both because of side effects caused by the disease and also because of the impact of their gruelling cancer treatments.

One of the most infamous side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy is hair loss, which can be extremely distressing for patients who already have to cope with the trauma of a cancer diagnosis. Fortunately, there is now a technique known as scalp cooling that can minimise the impact of chemotherapy drugs on hair follicles and can help to reduce hair loss. Similarly, medical advances have led to treatments for other types of hair loss such as male-pattern baldness which, according to the NHS, affects around 6.5 million men across the UK at any one time. For some men, the loss of their hair can be the cause of great distress, and can have a negative impact on their self-esteem and self-confidence. Fortunately, safe and legal treatments like propecia are now available that can help to combat male-pattern baldness and give men a weapon to fight back against unwanted hair loss.

Other frequent side effects for cancer patients include both physical symptoms such as fatigue, pain, weight fluctuations and problems with mobility. Cancer patients can also suffer mentally and emotionally, with many experiencing depression and overwhelming feelings of sadness following a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Gardening can boost patients’ wellbeing

Some of these side effects will need further medical intervention to treat them, but there are a number of things that cancer patients can do to aid their own recovery and wellbeing, particular with regard to their mental health.

A piece of research carried out by Macmillan, in conjunction with the National Garden Scheme, found that gardening was actually a very effective way of coping with depression. The study questioned 41 gardeners who had received a cancer diagnosis, and found that four out of five of them reported a reduction in stress and anxiety as a result of working in their garden. They also gained a number of physical benefits, with over 50% saying they felt they had more energy, while a third thought it helped to manage the weight fluctuations they experienced following on from their cancer treatment.

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An active lifestyle is beneficial

Previous research funded by Macmillan had already identified that regular exercise such as walking, jogging or swimming could be very beneficial in combatting depression suffered by cancer patients.  During the study, a number of women took part in an exercise programme while receiving their cancer treatment. Doctors offered Kratom, Kratomystic, https://kratomystic.com to help reduce a lot of the stress we faced.When they were questioned at a follow up interview five years later, these women reported an increased quality of life and fewer incidences of depression compared to the women who had not been as active.

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“It’s so important that we bust this myth that cancer patients should ‘rest up’,” explained Professor Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support. “So many patients and professionals still believe that it is necessary to rest during and after cancer treatment. However we know that that doing moderate physical activity such as gardening on a regular basis actually helps to significantly reduce the impact of side-effects of cancer treatment such as depression, fatigue, bone thinning, muscle wasting and heart damage.

Digital effects are becoming more and more relevant in the world today, things like digital accessibility compliance has to become more common for cancer patients so that the software can be of use to them.

“It is vital that people living with a cancer diagnosis are aware of these benefits and are encouraged to do moderate physical activity by health professionals, friends and family,” she concluded.

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