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 five years out since their diagnosis. Approximately 17 percent are 20 years from the diagnosis! About half of this 16 million are over 70 years old. 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.
Every patient completing cancer therapy has concerns about recurrence and wonders how to remain healthy. At the Hartford HealthCare 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?
Click here for our list of upcoming cancer, wellness and integrative medicine classes and events this winter.
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.
If you have completed cancer therapy and have not had a survivorship visit, we are happy to schedule one for you. A copy of your treatment summary and care plan is also shared with your 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.
We hope to provide news items of continued interest for you. For example, e-newsletter articles in the past year have included information about diet and nutrition, physical activity, survivorship issues confronting patients with breast, urologic, GI, thoracic and brain neoplasms, and our comprehensive Integrative Therapies program.
We also provide you with a list of Cancer Institute events and programs, as well as contact information for our cancer centers. In future months, you will read a monthly column about survivorship issues for different cancer types. You will hear about specific support issues that might be of help to you and your loved ones, including psychological support, nutritional information, healthy recipes, physical activity programs, Reiki and acupuncture, pain control, speech and occupational therapy, lymphedema management and symptom management.
We will deliver information on some of our new programs for survivors, including cardio-oncology and nurse navigation.
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-plus-year survivors, too!
If you have completed cancer therapy and have not had a survivorship visit, you can schedule one by calling our CANCER CONNECT line at 855-255-6181.
Dr. Andrew L. Salner, editor of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute e-newsletter and and a survivorship researcher, is the medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital.