Inner Strength Helps Women After Cancer

Quality of life improves for survivors, study finds

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THURSDAY, April 15, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Building inner strength may help aging women with cancer improve their quality of life and health outcomes, suggests a Virginia Commonwealth University study in the April issue of the Journal of Cultural Diversity.

"As a result of improved diagnosis and treatment, more women are surviving cancer," study author Dr. Gayle M. Roux, an assistant professor of maternal child health, said in a prepared statement.

"Some women emerge from a stressful event such as cancer with an enhanced sense of inner strength or mastery, which are characteristics of improved quality of life. But for some women, cancer survival can be accompanied by negative physical and psychological syndromes, such as fear of disease and loneliness, that affect their quality of life and impact their health outcomes," Roux said.

"We have a keen interest, therefore, in helping cancer survivors to build their inner strength so they can better manage their symptoms, restore their sense of purpose, and live life more fully," Roux added.

She and her colleagues have developed and are testing an Inner Strength Questionnaire. It's designed to identify and measure the needs of women dealing with chronic health problems such as cancer.

The questionnaire includes four scales that measure spirituality, problem solving, mental spirit, and balance. These scales are accompanied by suggested interventions that doctors could use to help their women patients avoid the weight gain, depression, anxiety and other issues that commonly occur following cancer treatment. These issues can reduce longevity and quality of life.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about life after cancer treatment.

SOURCE: Virginia Commonwealth University, news release, April 2004

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