Researchers at the University of Newcastle are investigating how to improve support services for blood cancer survivors and their carers.
Laureate Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher is leading the project, funded by a $500,000 grant from Cancer Australia. Blood cancers include leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. "Cancer treatment places immense stress on survivors and their carers," Professor Sanson-Fisher said.
"The low incidence of blood cancer diseases makes it difficult for survivors and their carers to share experiences with others in similar situations. This is especially true for survivors living in rural areas, where there may not be organisations to offer support services."
The research will examine a national sample of survivors and their carers across urban and rural areas, to identify if geographical location impacts on their unmet needs and any psychological disturbances.
"Unmet needs are those such as medical care, jobs, personal finances and emotional support, while psychological disturbances may be distress, depression, anxiety and stress," Professor Sanson-Fisher explained.
"People with cancer not only suffer from physical ailments, but anxiety about their treatment; the way they are being cared for; the information they are receiving; as well as family, financial, social and work-related concerns. These issues all impact on a person's ability to cope, which in turn affects their recovery.
"We will compare the results of rural and urban survivors and carers to identify those most in need of additional support or services.
"This is essential information if we are to improve the provision and coordination of care, and improve the psychosocial outcomes for blood cancer survivors."
Professor Sanson-Fisher works in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute's Public Health Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.
Interviews: Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher is available for interview from 8.30 - 9.30am today. A leukaemia survivor is also available today to speak to media about his journey.