PHILADELPHIA (June 27, 2017) – In honor of Cancer Survivor throughout the year, Fox Chase Cancer Center is celebrating cancer survivors across the country. It is important that all patients who have completed cancer treatment have a wellness plan in place as they transition from treatment to recovery.
The American Cancer Society defines cancer survivors as individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis throughout their life. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there are approximately 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States, representing 4.8% of the population. The number of survivors is projected to grow to 26.1 million by 2040.
“The rates of cancer survivorship are on the rise due to a variety of factors,” said Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, medical oncologist at Fox Chase. “With advances in cancer prevention, screenings for early detection, innovative treatments like targeted therapies, and improved management of treatment side effects, patients who have been diagnosed with cancer are living longer.” In fact, 62% of survivors today are currently 65 years of age or older, according to the NCI. By 2040, it is estimated that 73% of cancer survivors in the United States will be 65 years or older.
Once treatment ends, survivors require ongoing care and support to address their concerns regarding the effects of cancer. Often, survivors must deal with other health problems; some may even develop other cancers. Many face physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual and financial challenges as a result of cancer diagnosis and treatment. “Survivors need time to readjust to their lives after cancer,” said Denlinger. “I urge patients to openly discuss their concerns and worries with their health-care team so they may be fully and properly addressed.”
A survivorship care plan is a key component to care after treatment has ended. “Whether a patient returns to his or her oncologist or primary care physician for follow-up care, both must understand the patient’s survivorship care plan,” said Denlinger.
A survivorship care plan includes a treatment summary and coordinated plan of care, including standards for follow-up and strategies to maintain one’s health. It may also include information and management recommendations for any lingering treatment effects or risks of developing late effects of cancer treatment. “Survivorship care plans are built to improve communication between patients and their cancer care team, and between one’s cancer care team and other doctors who provide ongoing care,” added Denlinger.
In addition to survivorship care plans, multiple resources are available to guide survivors. The National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship is dedicated to enhancing the length and quality of life of survivors, addressing their unique needs, and providing support for survivorship research. Many cancer centers conduct survivorship research and offer specialized clinics to provide care and services to cancer survivors. Community organizations, such as LIVESTRONG and the American Cancer Society, offer information and resources on survivorship. Many community foundations are also dedicated to survivorship efforts within specific cancer types.
To learn more about survivorship services at Fox Chase Cancer Center, visit FoxChase.org.