Progress against cancer has helped save or extend the lives of millions of patients. Thanks to advances in medical research, there are about 12 million cancer survivors today in the United States. For patients transitioning back into everyday life after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other treatments, it can often be a confusing and even troubling time.
To help patients adjust to life after active treatment, ASCO has a free, easy-to-use booklet that explains survivorship as a distinct phase in the cancer experience. The booklet is based on content from ASCO’s patient information website, Cancer.Net (www.cancer.net), and is meant to be given to a patient as the completion of treatment draws near.
Continuum of Care
“As oncologists, our involvement in patient care doesn’t end along with active treatment. We must provide the resources and tools to help guide people through the cancer care continuum,” said Melissa Hudson, MD, Chair of ASCO’s Survivorship Committee and Cancer.Net Associate Editor.
ASCO’s booklet helps patients understand what to expect as treatment is completed, explains common challenges faced by survivors, and offers suggestions for next steps following treatment.
“There are different definitions of survivorship, but among the most common is people living with, through, and beyond cancer,” said Diane Blum, MSW, Editor-in-Chief of Cancer.Net. “The period following treatment can be full of uncertainties. It is one of the most complex aspects of the cancer experience because it is different for every person,” she said.
Survivorship Care Plan
Following active treatment, many patients find it helpful to keep a Cancer Treatment Summary and Survivorship Care Plan as a convenient way to store information about their cancer, its treatment, and follow-up care. For patients, keeping track of their medical history is useful for future doctors who will provide care. The plan should define the responsibilities of care providers whether they are cancer-related, non–cancer-related, or psychosocial providers. Clear descriptions of who is responsible for the various aspects of care can optimize care coordination, avoid unnecessary use of resources, and ensure that care is patient-centered and harmonized.
“One of the best ways to ensure survivors have a smooth transition into their ‘new normal’ is to implement a survivorship care plan. These free forms available from ASCO, are helpful in ensuring doctors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals are aligned in their goals following active cancer treatment,” said Dr. Hudson. The ASCO forms can be found at asco.org/treatmentsummary or at cancer.net/treatmentsummaries.
ASCO’s free Survivorship booklet is available to download at cancer.net/survivorship. Print copies can be ordered by calling ASCO University’s Bookstore at 888-273-3508 or visiting cancer.net/estore. Although the booklet is free, shipping and handling charges apply.
© 2011. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All Rights Reserved.