A clear need for better post-treatment care
Since the publication of the Institute of Medicine’s report, From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition, there has been growing awareness of the challenges faced by cancer survivors. Like patients in the diagnostic and treatment phases of care, post-treatment cancer survivors have significant physical and psychosocial concerns. These range from the late-and long-term effects resulting from cancer treatment to emotional issues such as fear of recurrence to practical concerns such as difficulty paying medical bills.
Providers face numerous challenges
Cancer providers are increasingly offering services for this rapidly growing population, yet there are numerous challenges associated with providing survivorship care. First, survivors are a diverse population with a vast and varied set of needs. As a result, it is difficult for cancer providers to determine where to focus limited resources. Second, there has been little research to date on what constitutes quality survivorship care. Follow up care has the potential to impact recurrence rates and survivors’ quality of life, but there is no consensus as to the best way to manage patients after the completion of their cancer treatment. Third, cancer providers receive little or no reimbursement for survivorship services, making it difficult to justify investment in this area.
A new focus for the oncology community
Prior to 2010, cancer providers largely took an opportunistic approach to survivorship, offering services based on the availability of resources and the needs of their survivor population. Given the lack of reimbursement, this was a prudent approach. However, in 2010, the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer issued a new standard for survivorship care which will require accredited cancer programs to dramatically shift their focus. Specifically, the standard requires cancer programs to provide a survivorship care plan and treatment summary to every patient upon completion of treatment. Given that it can take five or more hours to prepare a survivorship care plan and treatment summary for one patient, meeting this new standard represents a major investment of resources.
Access the publication to learn more
In order to help member institutions meet the Commission on Cancer’s new standard and to advance their support of the survivor community, this publication profiles leading institutions that have successfully established survivorship programs and provides lessons for successful implementation.