04:03pm Tuesday 14 July 2020

Human spirit resilient among cancer survivors

Professor Emily BanksProfessor Emily Banks

The lecture will see Professor Emily Banks from the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment discuss the results of her research, published recently in the Medical Journal of Australia

Professor Banks is the Scientific Director of the New South Wales ‘45 and Up Study’.  The analysis that she will present today includes data from 89,000 men and women and examines the relationship between psychological distress, health-related disability and cancer diagnosis.

She found that, surprisingly, long-term survivors of cancer are not destined to suffer ongoing depression.  Instead, depression was directly linked to ongoing health-related disabilities rather than the cancer diagnosis or treatment itself.  Long-term cancer survivors who were not affected by disability exhibited levels of depression and anxiety that were only slightly higher than people without cancer. 

This suggests that people have a strong capacity to adapt psychologically to a diagnosis of cancer, especially if they are still functioning well physically.

“Disability is clearly a really important factor influencing mental wellbeing,” said Professor Banks. 

“The good news is that cancer survivors can be reassured that they should, in general, be able to re-establish their emotional equilibrium once they have been through the period of diagnosis and treatment, especially if they remain able-bodied.”

Contacts: For interviews: Professor Emily Banks – 02 6125 0328 For media assistance: Danielle Chubb, ANU Media – 02 6125 7988 / 0416 249 241

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