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J Cancer Educ. 2010 Sep;25(3):396-400. doi: 10.1007/s13187-010-0062-5. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

Cancer patients and their companion animals: results from a 309-patient survey on pet-related concerns and anxieties during chemotherapy.

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  • 1Division of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


The purpose of this study was to explore whether cancer patients, who are actively receiving cancer therapy and who sometimes have only a few months to live, have anxieties or concerns that arise as a result of not being able to care for their pets during their illness or after their demise. A survey was developed and utilized among such patients to assess whether they had pet-related concerns and anxieties and to determine whether they desired more information on available pet-related resources. Three hundred nine patients completed the survey, and 170 (55%) had a pet(s). The majority described that their pets helped them during their cancer. Only 4% of all patients and 7% of the pet owners desired more information on community resources for pet care, and 80% of pet owners had family members who were already helping them with pet care. Cancer patients appear to benefit from their pets and report few pet-related concerns. Healthcare providers at other medical centers should consider determining whether their patients have needs and anxieties related to caring for their pets and whether educational efforts should be put forth to focus on such issues.

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