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What Does It Mean to Have Chronic Cancer?

December 15, 2017

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Cancer treatments continue to become more advanced, and new discoveries are being made every day. As a result, patients are now living longer and experiencing a better quality of life than ever before. This has prompted many people to think of cancer as a chronic condition, much like rheumatoid arthritis and insulin-dependent diabetes, rather than the almost-assuredly terminal illness it once was.

Although many types of cancer cannot be cured – at least not at the present time – these conditions can often be monitored and managed effectively with treatment, which may prevent the cancerous cells from growing and spreading. Some cancers can be controlled for years, even to the point that they go into remission, allowing patients to feel better and become stronger. For this reason, many patients prefer to focus on learning how to live as best they can with a serious but stable condition, rather than thinking about the current lack of a cure (which could conceivably change at any time).

How long can chronic cancer be managed?

People who are living with chronic cancer often ask this question, but unfortunately there is no hard and fast answer. Because every patient is different, the timeframe for treatment can vary widely depending on a number of individual factors, such as a patient’s:

  • Cancer type and stage
  • Treatment plan
  • Response to treatment
  • Age and overall health

It can be difficult to cope with chronic cancer, particularly since there can never be any guarantees with regard to prognosis. For peace of mind, it is important for a patient to talk candidly and often with his or her treatment team. This is the best way to obtain individualized information, which will be most accurate in terms of what to expect over both the short and long term.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we diagnose and treat all forms of cancer, ranging from relatively common conditions such as breast, skin and lung cancer to less common malignancies, including brain cancer, mesothelioma and multiple myeloma. With a multispecialty team of oncologists, researchers and supportive care specialists dedicated to addressing each of more than 100 unique conditions, Moffitt helps each patient achieve the best possible outcome and quality of life, regardless of his or her diagnosis.

You can request an appointment at Moffitt Cancer Center with or without a referral. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.