Psychological burden of haematological cancer on patient and family: is it time for a multisystem approach?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Literature addressing the psychological impact of haematological cancers on patients and their families is sparse. New evidence might prompt a change in approach to the assessment and management of psychological burden.

Recent findings

The diagnosis, treatment and surveillance of haematological cancers often have a profound psychological impact on patients and their families and can result in clinically significant problems and increased carer stress. These may manifest at any stage from diagnosis to death or living as a survivor. Some high-risk subgroups have been identified.

Summary

The range of diagnostic groups, wide range of data analysis time-points relative to time of diagnosis, heterogeneity of outcome measures and differing methodologies (mainly prevalence studies) confound generalization of the findings. Targeted screening of the most at-risk subpopulations at times of greatest risk seems sensible to facilitate early intervention; further work is required to establish how often to screen and the best way of doing that. None of these articles define thresholds for intervention. Clearly more psychological support is needed for patients with haematological cancers and their families, but these articles do not provide evidence to suggest what this should comprise. There remains a need for large, longitudinal multicentre studies.

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