Mar 27, 2015 10:00 AM

Author: Cancer Learning Center

“Too many survivors are lost in transition once they finish treatment. They move from an orderly system of care to a ‘non-system’ in which there are few guidelines to see them through the next stage of their life or help them overcome the medical and psychosocial problems that may arise.”—Institute of Medicine

Has this happened to you? Do you know anyone in this position?

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 14.5 million children and adults with a history of cancer were alive in 2014 in the United States.  By 2024, this number is expected to increase to almost 19 million people—more than the combined population of New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, and the state of Utah.

What can we do to help survivors in this period of transition? One way is to create a survivor care plan. A survivor care plan is a personalized plan created for the survivor, cancer care team, primary care physician, and other health care providers following cancer treatment. The plan can include contact information for the patient’s care team, a summary of diagnosis and treatment, potential late effects, a schedule for follow-up tests and appointments, a list of support resources, and information on how to manage any ongoing symptoms. The goal is that these plans can help to improve survivors’ health and quality of life.

The plan is also a guide to help survivors identify important behavioral modifications they can make to help reduce the risks of having cancer again—such as managing weight, quitting smoking, lowering alcohol intake, and exercising regularly.

Survivor care plans will soon be required for cancer centers to maintain accreditation. Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is taking these recommendations seriously. With the conversion to our new electronic medical record, HCI has already completed survivor care plans for breast cancer and melanoma patients and is currently creating plans for survivors with other types of cancer.

If you have any questions about survivor care plans, please contact your primary oncologist.

Jennifer Wright, MDAnna Beck, MD; Brynn Fowler, MPH
Survivorship, Symptom Management, and Quality of Life research team at HCI

Cancer Learning Center

Huntsman Cancer Institute

Sign Up for Weekly Health Updates

Get weekly emails of the latest news from HealthFeed.