Doctors, Patients Concerned About After-Cancer Care
As cancer survival rates have improved in recent decades, oncologists and patients increasingly are focusing on "survivorship" -- long-term, post-cancer care that addresses side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, the New York Times reports. Conditions resulting from such life-saving treatments can include menopause, sexual dysfunction, heart disease and new cancers.
A 2005 report by the Institute of Medicine said, "The transition from active treatment to post-treatment care is critical to long-term health," adding that insurers "should recognize survivorship care as an essential part of cancer care."
Several U.S. cancer centers have developed survivor programs financed by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
To bolster the growing field, New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and other centers have undertaken an effort to create an online database of patient-care summaries for cancer survivors -- including treatments received, their potential risks and recommended follow-up care -- that could be utilized by physicians. Such information also is important for patients because many might be unaware of the future challenges they face, according to the Times.
Mary McCabe, director of survivorship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said, "It's no longer sufficient to say, 'Well, you survived.'" She added, "We need to maximize their recovery and quality of life" (Berger, New York Times, 5/22).