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What lingering emotional effects may I experience after cancer?

Some survivors continue to have strong emotions about the cancer experience long after treatment is done. Others may experience new emotions. Some feelings about the cancer experience can even surface months or years later.

Common emotions an concerns following cancer treatment may include:
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Sadness or depression
  • Anxiety
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Concerns about pain or fatigue
  • Concerns about body image
  • Concerns about relationships
Once you are physically able to return to your normal daily activities or work, you may find that you are no longer very interested in things that were once important to you. It may be difficult to concentrate. Some survivors worry a lot or have a general feeling of uneasiness or unhappiness. These types of emotions can affect communication with loved ones, friends, and employers. In some cases, relationships may suffer.

You may experience all, some, or no emotional aftereffects. If you have concerns, ask loved ones, friends, or your healthcare team for help. Your concerns and feelings are important.

In some cases, it may be challenging to describe the feelings you are having after cancer treatment is done. You may think that you are only supposed to be grateful and happy. It may be tempting to try to ignore unpleasant emotions. However, if there are strong emotions, you may benefit from counseling or the support of others.

Many oncology programs now offer counseling support and support groups to help survivors continue to do well into the survivorship phase. If yours does not, ask your doctor or social worker to help you find the support you need.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.