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Practice Tip of the Week: Cancer Survivorship

Tuesday, May 30, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kat Hinson
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Practice Tip of the Week: Cancer Survivorship  

Did you know there are over 15.5 million people living with cancer in the US? Estimates indicate that half of all men and one-third of women will experience cancer at least once in their lifetime. Next Sunday June 4th marks the 30th annual National Cancer Survivors Day. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) pioneered the definition of survivor as being any person diagnosed with cancer, from the time of initial diagnosis until his or her death. This expansive definition of "survivor" includes people who are dying from untreatable cancer. The NCCS website has numerous resources such as a Cancer Survival Toolbox and advocacy tips on dealing with insurance companies and employment rights.

 

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that by 2026 there will be over 20 million people living with cancer. The ACS publication, Cancer Treatment and Survivorship: Facts and Figures is a comprehensive information source covering topics such as statistics and treatments for selected cancer diagnoses, navigating the cancer experience, long term survivorship, and concerns of families and caregivers.

 

The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health has a dedicated Office of Cancer Survivorship established in 1996 to help improve quality of life and long term survival for persons living with cancer. This informative resource has information on life after treatment and shifting the focus from illness to recovery. One particularly valuable publication, Facing Forward: Life after Cancer Treatment, provides guidance on getting to a new normal after treatment, managing physical changes, body image, and emotional coping including fear of recurrence.

 

Other helpful resources include a Treatment Summary and Survivorship Plan  developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. This document may help patients and families with care coordination because it allows them to record the pertinent details of the diagnosis, treating providers, treatments, planned surveillance, and possible late and long term effects that can be shared with the primary care and other healthcare providers.

 

Most people depend on their healthcare professionals to provide information on their particular cancer and treatment course. In addition, people often turn to the internet for support and strategies for living with cancer. Healthline.com recently published the Best Cancer Blogs of 2017, a carefully curated list of blogs that “educate, inspire, and empower their readers” including Cancer.net and Stand Up to Cancer

 

 Nurses may be interested in further reading on a technical brief on models of survivorship care published by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research. The authors note there is a great deal of variability in programs designed to support a patient’s transition to survivorship and more research is needed to determine program effectiveness and develop recommendations. 


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