Cancer is a highly prevalent disease;there is a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer. While some cancers are exceedingly lethal, the overall rate of death associated with cancer has declined. There are now ten million cancer survivors in the U.S., including half a million veterans. Cancer and its treatment are associated with long term mental and physical side effects that impair vocational, leisure, and social role functioning and impact community integration. With the exception of prostate cancer, the needs of cancer survivors within the veteran population have not been studied. In order to provide excellent care for veterans, an empirical base is needed to understand the long-term and late appearing symptoms associated with surviving cancer. The Veterans Cancer Rehabilitation Study (Vet-CaRe) will interview 180 survivors of Head and Neck, Esophageal and Gastric, and Colorectal Cancer at 3, 6, and 12 months post-diagnosis, with the following aims:
Specific Aim 1 : To determine the longitudinal course of functional disability and psychological distress in veterans treated for cancer and the variables that moderate disability/distress.
Specific Aim 2 : To determine the impact of disability and distress on community integration in veterans treated for cancer, and the variables that mediate this relationship.
Specific Aim 3 : To characterize gaps in VHA rehabilitative services following cancer.
Specific Aim 4 : To characterize patient-centered goals for community re-integration following cancer. These findings will provide empirical data to define the rehabilitation needs of veterans following cancer treatment. Such information will inform rehabilitation interventions and improve treatment planning and care coordination for cancer survivors within rehabilitation, oncology, mental health, and primary care services.
The lifetime risk of cancer is about 1 in 2;10 million Americans, 500,000 of whom are veterans are now cancer survivors. This study will provide empirical data to define the rehabilitation needs of veterans following cancer treatment.