Living with long-term consequences: experience of follow-up care and support needs among Asian long-term colorectal cancer survivors

Colorectal Cancer

Yoon S, et al. Psychooncology 2020.


OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to provide an in-depth exploration of follow-up care experiences and supportive care needs in long-term colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors within multiethnic Asian communities.

METHODS: Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted on a purposive sample of 30 long-term CRC survivors who had completed all treatment without recurrence ranging 2-17 years in Singapore. Interviews were audio-recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was conducted following grounded theory approach.

RESULTS: Four themes represented the experience of the Asian long-term CRC survivors: (1) living with long-term consequences, (2) dealing with unceasing adaptation demands, (3) navigating a healthcare journey with limited direction, (4) regaining mastery through adversity. CRC and its treatment had profound physical impacts on some long-term survivors and these effected their psychological well-being. A sense of abandonment and vulnerability following the cessation of a 5-year follow-up care was repeatedly expressed. Participants defined recovery from CRC as not merely surviving but also having high physical function and full independence. They often sought less conventional remedies and medicine based on cultural beliefs rather than current evidence. Participants noted pervasive social stigma associated with CRC that impeded their inclusion in the workforce.

CONCLUSIONS: Asian long-term CRC survivors experienced multiple challenges and needs relating to the care experience, information provision and workforce stigmatization, several of which were unique to the Asian context. Future work will need to consider the implementation of culturally tailored cancer survivorship care plans that incorporate the specific needs of Asian CRC survivors. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.