Nearly 16 million Americans are now cancer survivors, reflecting the great improvements in early detection and treatment over the past 10-20 years.
Interestingly, approximately 66 percent of these survivors are more than 5 years out since their diagnosis, and approximately 17 percent are 20-year survivors! About half of this 16 million are over 70 years of age. In terms of diagnosis, about 23 percent had breast cancer, 21 percent had prostate cancer, 9 percent colon cancer and the rest are divided among other cancer sites.
At the Hartford HealthCare Institute, our hope is to provide treatment and then information for cancer survivors and their loved ones that will help enhance their health, support, and wellness.
Every patient completing cancer therapy has concerns about recurrence and wonders what they might do to remain healthy. At our Institute, we provide a survivorship visit opportunity for patients completing their active cancer therapy. This visit, with an APRN or other provider, addresses issues that cancer patients completing therapy face, and complements the visits patients have with their treating physicians.
The survivorship provider makes available to them a detailed treatment summary of their treatment course including cancer pathology, stage and details of therapy. This is an important compilation of information about the cancer and its treatment. Patients also receive a personalized Survivorship Care Plan (SCP).
The SCP contains evidence-based information about four important areas:
- How do I coordinate the surveillance for my cancer?
- What late effects might occur from my treatment, and how should I be monitored for them?
- What other cancer screenings should I be following?
- What strategies should I employ for staying well?
Upcoming cancer, wellness and integrative medicine classes and events this summer (you can register for some of them here):
Issues commonly addressed at this visit include fatigue management, enhancing physical activity/exercise, improving diet and nutrition, accessing rehabilitation, initiating tobacco cessation, and dealing with psychological concerns such as anxiety and depression.
A copy of your treatment summary and care plan is also shared with you primary care physician to help ensure continuity and coordination of your care. We feel that the survivorship visit is an essential component of your overall cancer care.
Our goal is to partner with you to empower you to live a long and healthy life. By providing accurate and timely information, linking you to educational and support programs, and enabling you to access resources as you need them, we hope that you and your loved ones will be 20+ year survivors, also!
If you have completed cancer therapy and have not had a survivorship visit, we are happy to schedule one for you. Please call our CANCER CONNECT line at 855-255-6181 to arrange.
Dr. Andrew L. Salner is Medical Director of Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital and a survivorship researcher.