Community support has been considered an important factor that would help in improving the lives of the cancer patients and helping them to follow a path that would be effective in improving their survival in the cancer journey. The community support is capable of fulfilling the patients’ requirements which helps in the development of optimal methods to cope with cancer adverse events. Excessive support in the patient’s life may result in causing negative effects on their daily activities that further integrate the chances of dependency. Hence, optimizing the community support has helped the patients in developing a healthy approach for treatment and recovery.
Many analyses have been done involving several week-long residential retreating of the cancer people. These retreats have revealed that being in the community and supporting fellow wounded healers along with going home and revving up social support systems, have contributed to long-term, life-changing benefits. Hence, being together and caring for each other within the community is social support. Social support is a network of family, friends, neighbors, and community members that is available in times of need to give psychological, physical, and financial help. Sharing love and support is a lifestyle factor that evolves differences in the lives of cancer people and their caregivers. Hence, a complete integrated cancer care plan must include social support. Sharing love and support benefits the cancer patients even though the research focuses on a few cancer types. It involves little risk and improves the quality of life by improving cancer outcomes. Practitioners are comfortable recommending sharing love and support for cancer patients. Many support and social sharing sources are available, including support groups specific to many cancer types and caregivers. Healing circles have provided small group support in different topic areas for supporting cancer patients in improving their quality of life.
Community support has shown efficacy in working against cancer growth or spread, improving survival, or working with other treatments or therapies to enhance their anticancer action. The impact of social support on life expectancy shows strong relevance to the effects of obesity, cigarette smoking, hypertension, or level of physical activity (Ozbay et al., 2007). Some of the positive outcomes have been listed below:
- Cancer (in general): Prolonged survival rate has been observed in cancer patients with the integration of social involvement and participation of the cancer people in religious and other community groups (Deng et al., 2009). Another analysis revealed that a two-year longer lifespan among middle-aged men who developed cancer and were married or living with a partner at the start of the study was observed compared to those who were single, divorced, or widowed in a 30-year observational study (Kraav et al., 2021).
- Breast Cancer: Better survival rates with substantial social networks have been observed in breast cancer patients (Kroenke et al., 2017). Improved survival among breast cancer patients has been observed with psychosocial interventions involving those using social support (Gudenkauf & Ehlers, 2018). Improved adherence to adjuvant endocrine therapy (AET) for breast cancer patients has been found with higher levels of social support (Bright & Stanton, 2018).
- Colorectal cancer: Lower rate of deaths has been evaluated from colorectal cancer among men in Japan who have been provided with high social support (Ikeda et al., 2013).
- Ovarian Cancer: Long-term survival rates have been observed among women with ovarian cancer who have been provided with social support showing connection to others as a social attachment (Lutgendorf et al., 2012).
- Prostate Cancer: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a marker of potential cancer activity, tends to decrease after one year among men with early-stage prostate cancer who have been provided with social support and support groups and other lifestyle interventions (Ornish et al., 2005).
- Ozbay, F., Johnson, D. C., Dimoulas, E., Morgan III, C. A., Charney, D., & Southwick, S. (2007). Social support and resilience to stress: from neurobiology to clinical practice. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 4(5), 35.
- Deng, G. E., Frenkel, M., Cohen, L., Cassileth, B. R., Abrams, D. I., Capodice, J. L., … & Sagar, S. (2009). Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, 7(3).
- Kraav, S. L., Lehto, S. M., Kauhanen, J., Hantunen, S., & Tolmunen, T. (2021). Loneliness and social isolation increase cancer incidence in a cohort of Finnish middle-aged men. A longitudinal study. Psychiatry research, 299, 113868. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2021.113868
- Kroenke, C. H., Michael, Y. L., Poole, E. M., Kwan, M. L., Nechuta, S., Leas, E., … & Chen, W. Y. (2017). Postdiagnosis social networks and breast cancer mortality in the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project. Cancer, 123(7), 1228-1237. https://doi.org/10.1002%2Fcncr.30440
- Gudenkauf, L. M., & Ehlers, S. L. (2018). Psychosocial interventions in breast cancer survivorship care. The Breast, 38, 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.breast.2017.11.005
- Ikeda, A., Kawachi, I., Iso, H., Iwasaki, M., Inoue, M., & Tsugane, S. (2013). Social support and cancer incidence and mortality: the JPHC study cohort II. Cancer Causes & Control, 24(5), 847-860. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10552-013-0147-7
- Lutgendorf SK, De Geest K et al. Social influences on clinical outcomes of patients with ovarian cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2012 Aug 10;30(23):2885-90.
Ornish, D., Weidner, G., Fair, W. R., Marlin, R., Pettengill, E. B., Raisin, C. J., … & Carroll, P. R. (2005). Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. The Journal of urology, 174(3), 1065-1070. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.ju.0000169487.49018.73