A new study was published this week by Birbeck Univeristy’s Dr. Caroline Kamau, who has spent the past several months investigating the link between successful cancer treatment and awareness about the details of the disease among patients. Dr. Kamau’s study analyzed almost 3,500 patients through data gathered by the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey. The results? “The report reveals that working patients who receive information about their disease, its treatment and its impact on working life and education are almost twice as likely to experience a positive outcome as those who do not.” In simpler terms, awareness about cancer can essentially double survival rates.
For the purpose of this study, a “positive outcome” was defined as “completing treatment with no further signs or symptoms of cancer”. Dr. Kamau’s results from the study were both surprising and enlightening. She determined that the likelihood of a positive outcome was:
Interestingly enough, she also found that patients who received information about side effects were up to 35% less likely to have a positive outcome. Dr. Kamau believes this may be because negative information like this can tend to increase a patient’s stress, uncertainty, and despondence.
The study was later validated by secondary analysis which yielded similar results, finding that the more information patients had about their disease, the better they fared in treatment and recovery. Kamau’s study also showed that in many cases, cancer patients who continued to work while battling their disease were more likely to achieve a positive outcome. She believes that keeping their career life going while battling cancer can be the light at the end of the tunnel for many patients, and that having the huge support system provided by co-workers can be incredibly helpful.
Although no study is ever full-proof, and it’s so difficult to prove that any one thing can help increase success rates in cancer survival, Dr. Kamau seems to be on to something. Awareness is an important element in a patient’s ability to overcome a serious disease like cancer, and the more information patients have about their disease, their treatment options, their symptoms and the various ways to overcome them, the more prepared they’ll be for the long fight ahead of them and the more likely they’ll be to come out ahead.