Social Support And Physical Activity Vital For Cancer Survivors Well-being

June 13, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

Surviving cancer is a tough row to hoe. Apart from the physical anguish that one goes through, the critical factors that affect health-related quality of life increase in number. It is important that all these factors are addressed to ensure physical and mental health for these patients, especially older adults with cancer.

A recent study sheds light on the variables influencing older persons with cancer’s health-related quality of life. The results highlight the significance of addressing chronic symptoms, controlling comorbidities, increasing leisure-time physical exercise, and resolving financial obstacles. They were published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society.

Understanding factors that contribute to good quality of life for cancer survivors

In 2016, there were 15 million cancer patients in the US, and 62% of them were 65 or older. With the current rate of growth, this percentage will soon account for three-quarters of cancer survivors. Finding the survivors who are most vulnerable and at risk for unfavourable health outcomes can be made easier by understanding the key elements that improve or sustain the excellent quality of life after the initial treatment period.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Maria Pisu, PhD, Associate Professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine, Gabrielle Rocque, MD, Assistant Professor in Haematology and Oncology, and their associates conducted a study of 1457 persons 65 and older to learn more about the problem.

Most of the respondents had been diagnosed with cancer at least a year before the study and were not currently undergoing treatment. The study investigated variables that might affect the quality of life in the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual realms.

Physical and mental components of cancer survivors affected

The researchers discovered that influences from several domains were probably influencing the physical and mental aspects of quality of life. The most significant factors to the lower physical quality of life were patients’ other medical illnesses than cancer as well as more intense pain, exhaustion, and sleep disturbances in the week leading into the survey.

Social domain elements that affected support needs, such as the need for assistance when exhausted, were also significant. The improvement of physical quality of life appears to be significantly influenced by physical activity. The severity of symptoms like fatigue and sleep disturbance were once again the main factors associated with a lower quality of life in the mental realm. The requirement for emotional support and financial hardship incidents were additional likely causes.

“Quality of life studies tend to focus on one cancer at a time, on the period during treatment, and on specific cancer drugs or treatments; however, as people live longer after a cancer diagnosis, it is important to understand the contribution of other factors to quality of life regardless of cancer type or treatment,” said Dr. Pisu. “Cancer type and treatment received were not among the most important factors affecting the quality of life in our group of survivors.”

Dr. Pisu observed that it was rather unexpected for financial difficulties to have such an impact on the mental aspect of quality of life. She noted that elderly folks tend to be less concerned about financial and economic challenges.

The study’s results have implications for the care of older cancer survivors. “The approach to care for this population has to be one of comprehensive health promotion that includes appropriate management of symptoms and comorbid conditions and the promotion of healthy lifestyles,” said Dr. Pisu. “Moreover, their care should recognize the importance of older survivors’ social contexts and the support needs that they may have, including those related to financial challenges.”

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A research study by University of Leipzig in Germany, found that 32% of cancer patients experienced at least one clinically meaningful mental health issue. The research sheds light on which patients we should watch more closely, and how to best provide support.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Wiley. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Maria Pisu, Andres Azuero, Karina I. Halilova, Courtney P. Williams, Kelly M. Kenzik, Elizabeth A. Kvale, Grant R. Williams, Karen Meneses, Margaret Sullivan, Supriya Kumar Yagnik, Hans-Peter Goertz, Gabrielle B. Rocque. Most impactful factors on the health-related quality of life of a geriatric population with cancer. Cancer, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/cncr.31048

Page citation:

Wiley. “What factors affect the quality of life in older patients with cancer?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2017. <>.

Help is here:

Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)

Name of the Organisation: Indian Cancer Society

The ICS is one of the first voluntary, non-profit, National Organization for Awareness, Detection, Cure and Survivorship of those affected with this disease.


Contact: email:

Telephone: +91- 22-2413 9445 / 5 CANCER HELPLINE: 1800-22-1951

Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation

Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.


Contact: Email:

Telephone: +91 9999 666 555

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