A cancer survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer and the people in their life (e.g. spouse, children, friends, etc.) who are touched by the diagnosis. Survivorship care begins the day of diagnosis and continues throughout life to address physical, emotional, spiritual and practical issues of living with cancer.
We recognize that “cancer survivor” is a term that is not adopted or preferred by every patient or caregiver. However, The James’ recognizes that the concept of survivorship care, addressing needs beyond physical symptoms, is an essential component in cancer treatment. We are dedicated to providing you and your caregivers with personalized care to meet your unique needs.
What can I expect at my cancer survivorship visit?
The clinical experts in our Survivorship clinics are often times members of your primary oncology treatment team at The James. During a survivorship visit, a team member who may be a physician, nurse practitioner, nurse or social worker will:
- Review your recent medical history and perform a physical exam
- Order tests to find out if your cancer has come back
- Diagnose and help you manage cancer and treatment side effects
- Create a treatment summary and follow-up care plan
- Coordinate care and increase communication with your primary care physician
- Provide information and referrals related to:
- Cancer screening exams
- Increased risk for other cancers
- Late effects from cancer treatment
- Healthy behaviors that lower cancer risk (limit alcohol, quit smoking, exercise, eat healthy foods and use sun protection)
- Psychosocial and financial concerns related to cancer treatment
- James Cancer Hospital and/ or community resources
What referral(s) for supportive services can I expect?
The James offers a variety of services for you as a patient or your caregiver. Some of these services include:
- Cancer counseling (art therapy, music therapy, psychology & social work)
- Cancer risk assessment (genetics)
- Educational classes [link to JCFL homepage]
- Financial Counseling
- Integrative Medicine
- Nutrition counseling
- Physical therapy (can we link this the onc rehab page?)
- Spiritual counseling
- Support groups
- Vocational rehabilitation/employment assistance
Other services that may be useful include:
Couples or family counseling, fertility/sexuality counseling, home care services, and pain or symptom management. Some patients may also need financial aid or assistance with transportation to and from appointments.
What is a treatment summary and survivorship care plan?
Every cancer survivor should receive (sic) a comprehensive care summary and follow-up plan once they complete treatment. Important information that should be given to patients includes:
- What treatments and drugs were given
- How often a routine visit should be scheduled
- What doctor or other health care professional should be seen for follow-up care
- The chances that the cancer will come back or the chance that another type of cancer will develop
- Follow-up tests (name and frequency)
- Symptoms to watch for and who to call to discuss the symptom
- What are common long-term and late effects of the treatments
- How to maintain health and well-being
- Information about employment and health insurance
- Support groups
What kind of medical information should I keep?
It is important for you to keep a copy of your cancer treatment records. Ideally, this should include a comprehensive care summary and follow-up plan from your health care professional. In particular, it is important to keep the following information:
- Results of any diagnostic test
- Specific type of cancer (diagnosis)
- Date(s) of cancer diagnosis
- Details of all cancer treatment, including the places and dates where treatment was received (for example, type and dates of all surgeries; names and doses of all drugs; sites and total amounts of radiation)
- Contact information for all doctors and other health professionals involved in treatment and follow-up care
- Side effects and complications that occurred during and after treatment
- Supportive care received (for example, pain or nausea medication, emotional support, and nutritional supplements)
- Identifying number and title of clinical trial (research study), if the patient participated in a clinical trial
What should I tell my health care professional during follow-up visits?
- Any symptoms you think may be a sign that cancer has returned
- Any pain that bothers you
- Any physical problems that interfere with daily life or are bothersome, such as fatigue, difficulty with bladder, bowel or sexual function; difficulty concentrating; memory changes; trouble sleeping; and weight gain or loss
- Any medicines, vitamins, or herbs you are taking and any other treatments you are using
- Any emotional problems you are experiencing, such as anxiety or depression
- Any changes in your family medical history, including any new cancers
How can I make a survivorship appointment?
Appointments are made by a referral from your treating cancer doctor or nurse practitioner to one of our clinics. Click here (hyperlink) to read more about James Survivorship clinics.
Cancer Survivorship: In cancer, survivorship focuses on the health and life of a person with cancer post treatment until the end of life. It covers the physical, psychosocial, and economic issues of cancer, beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related to the ability to get health care and follow-up treatment, late effects of treatment, second cancers, and quality of life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also considered part of the survivorship experience (from the NCI)
Diagnosis: The process of identifying a disease, such as cancer, from its signs and symptoms.
Diagnostic test: A type of test used to help diagnose a disease or condition. Mammograms and colonoscopies are examples of diagnostic tests. Also called diagnostic procedure.
Distress: Extreme mental or physical pain or suffering.
Late effect: a health problem that occurs months or years after a disease is diagnosed or after treatment has ended. Late effects may be caused by cancer or cancer treatment. They may include physical, mental, and social problems and second cancers.
Long-term side effect: A problem that is caused by a disease or treatment of a disease and may continue for months or years. Long-term side effects of cancer treatment include heart, lung, kidney, or gastrointestinal tract problems; pain, numbness, tingling, loss of feeling, or heat or cold sensitivity in the hands or feet; fatigue; hearing loss; cataracts; and dry eyes or dry mouth.
Recurrence: Cancer that has recurred (come back), usually after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. The cancer may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or to another place in the body. Also called recurrent cancer.
Surveillance: In medicine, the ongoing collection of information about a disease, such as cancer, in a certain group of people. The information collected may include where the disease occurs in a population and whether it affects people of a certain gender, age, or ethnic group.
Survivor: One who remains alive and continues to function during and after overcoming a serious hardship or life-threatening disease. In cancer, a person is considered to be a survivor from the time of diagnosis until the end of life
Source: National Cancer Institute