Meeting the Spiritual Needs of Cancer Patients Can Have Positive Impact on Treatment and Quality of Life
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CHICAGO – March 30, 2007. Advanced-stage cancer patients who have their spiritual needs met are more likely to be aggressive with their cancer treatment and have better quality of life while fighting the disease according to the recent “Coping with Cancer Study,” a federally funded, multi-institutional investigation examining factors associated with advanced cancer patient and caregiver well-being. Experts at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), the nation’s leader in the practice of whole-person, fully integrative cancer treatment are not surprised by the findings but are concerned that most hospitals are so focused on treating the tumor that they often forget that cancer affects patients physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
“Medically treating cancer is rapidly evolving to the point where we are attacking the disease on a molecular level,” said Edgar Staren, M.D., PhD, chief medical officer at CTCA. “While we are getting more and more sophisticated on the medical side, too often hospitals forget that a cancer diagnosis is far more complex than tumor treatment. The impact of cancer is physical, emotional, mental, financial and spiritual. It’s a disease that truly affects the whole person.”
According to the study which was published February 10, 2007 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, people with advanced cancer felt they received little or no spiritual support from religious communities and the medical system even though the research shows that spirituality is important to advanced cancer patients. The study found that of the advance-stage cancer patients surveyed, “72% reported that their spiritual needs were supported minimally or not at all by the medical system.” The report concluded that cancer patients who had their spiritual needs met were more likely to have better quality of life and be more likely to seek aggressive treatment for their cancer.
The National Cancer Institute confirms that spiritual and religious well-being may be associated with an improved quality of life because of reduced anxiety, depression, and discomfort, reduced sense of isolation, better adjustment to the effects of cancer and treatment, a feeling of personal growth as a result of living with cancer, and overall improved health outcomes.
The Coping with Cancer Study also suggests integrating pastoral staff into the medical team as well as improving connections between the medical system and outside religious communities. The research substantiates the emphasis CTCA places on spirituality as an integral part of its whole-person treatment model. It’s current practice of fully integrating the spiritual need of cancer patients to support their treatment is a result of its successful history at the patient’s bedside and its spiritual outreach to faith-based organizations and communities.
“Cancer patients will tell you that their diagnosis sends them on a spiritual and emotional journey as well as a physical one,” says Rev. Percy McCray, Jr., director of pastoral care and social services at CTCA who works as part of a team with CTCA patients’ physicians and clinicians. “CTCA makes every effort to give cancer patients and their caregivers every advantage in their fight against cancer from state-of-the-art treatment options to nutritional, psychological and spiritual support,” he adds.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America offers a free program to churches and religious communities to help their congregations and communities better meet the spiritual needs of people and families battle cancer. Our Journey of Hope is a lay ministry training program that educates communities about the role of spirituality based on CTCA’s experience with thousands of cancer patients for more than twenty years. It is the first of its kind offered by a major cancer hospital network. More information about Our Journey of Hope can be found at www.ourjourneyofhope.com.
iReligiousness and Spiritual Support Among Advanced Cancer Patients and Associations With End-of-Life Treatment Preferences and Quality of Life, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 25, No 5 (February 10), 2007: pp. 555-560, http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/abstract/25/5/555.
iiReligiousness and Spiritual Support Among Advanced Cancer Patients and Associations With End-of-Life Treatment Preferences and Quality of Life, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 25, No 5 (February 10), 2007: pp. 555-560, http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/abstract/25/5/555.
iiiNational Cancer Institute, “Relation of Spirituality to Quality of Life”, http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/spirituality/Patient/page3
ivReligiousness and Spiritual Support Among Advanced Cancer Patients and Associations With End-of-Life Treatment Preferences and Quality of Life, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 25, No 5 (February 10), 2007: pp. 555-560, http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/abstract/25/5/555.
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Inc. (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals focusing on complex and advanced stage cancer. CTCA offers a comprehensive, fully integrated approach to cancer treatment and serves patients from all 50 states at facilities located in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa. Known for delivering the Mother Standard® of care and Patient Empowerment Medicine®, CTCA provides patients with information about cancer and their treatment options so they can control their treatment decisions. For more information about CTCA, go to www.cancercenter.com.