Advances in cancer care have led to dramatic improvements in survival rates over the past three decades. Now more than 66 per cent of Australians with cancer survive more than five years.

With these improvements in treatments, however, come challenges for people who live with complex and debilitating side effects from combinations of therapies and disease-related problems.

These challenges vary for every individual but can include physical, psychological, social and existential needs that affect general health and wellbeing. It may manifest as anxiety and depression, fear of cancer returning and uncertainty about the future; social isolation; ongoing treatment effects including fatigue, infertility and loss of sexual function; financial hardship and later effects, including the risk of new cancers and heart disease.

To alleviate some of these challenges and to help cancer patients live well during and after treatment, researchers at St John of God Murdoch Hospital are creating a series of informative videos for patients at the hospital’s Cancer Centre.

Professor Leanne Monterosso says the videos are being developed using feedback from interviews and study groups in which patients were asked about their experiences of having treatment and recovering from cancer.

“We used this feedback to help us provide more individually tailored support and information to improve the health and wellbeing of our patients,” Professor Monterosso says.

“It’s very helpful to be forearmed with useful information to make the journey a little easier.”

The first video in the series introduces patients to the hospital and Cancer Centre facilities and what they can expect when they arrive for treatment.

The video also outlines the treatment process, possible side effects and how to live as healthily as possible. The following four videos in the series will provide further information about diet, exercise and physiotherapy.

“Through extensive research studies conducted globally, we know that if you adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle during and after your treatment and take control of these areas of your life, your recovery and outcomes are far better,” Professor Monterosso says.

You can see the first in the series of videos at

The project is funded by the University of Notre Dame Fremantle’s Collaborative Research Network Funding and through the St John of God Foundation.

The people around you have got to be positive and I think a video that they can actually look at and say that’s great, look where he goes and he’s getting his treatment and he’s smiling. He’s having a cup of tea and a sandwich. You know, like that would be good for them I think, so no that’d be great… – Male, 61 years old with lung cancer

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