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Cancer symptoms more distressing for CALD communities

Study calls for improved support services for cancer patients from CALD backgrounds.

Cancer is more emotional distressing and frightening for migrants, according to new research.
Professor Phyllis Butow from the University of Sydney, said cancer patients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds have worse experiences of cancer than Anglo-Australians.

The study by PhD student Ming Sze compared 880 patients, including 545 immigrants and 335 Anglo-Australians, on their emotional distress and perceptions of their illness.

“The psychological experience for immigrants is significantly worse than Anglo-Australians,” Butow said. “Immigrants reported greater severity of symptoms, higher levels of emotional distress and perceived impact on their life and a lower understanding of cancer.”

“This research highlights the need for interventions among the CALD community to address misconceptions about cancer and reduce their stress,” he told the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia’s (COSA) annual scientific meeting.

COSA President, Professor Bogda Koczwara, said an increasing proportion of patients affected by cancer were from CALD backgrounds.

“One in two Australians will get cancer by age 85,” Koczwara said. “It is important that we cater for different languages and cultures so all cancer patients have access to support services, educational programs and assistance.”

SUB: GPs over screening for prostate cancer in older men

The conference was also told last week that one in five Australian men aged 75 to 84 are being tested each year for prostate cancer, despite international guidelines that recommend against testing in this age bracket.

According to Cancer Council NSW, GPs were ordering the tests despite evidence that screening men over 75 for prostate cancer was unlikely to be of benefit.

Research team leader, Professor Dianne O’Connell, said pre-existing evidence suggested prostate cancer in men aged over 75 was slow growing and they were far more likely to die from other causes. “A positive test in this group may do more harm than good,” she said.

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