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As a result of advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment, more people than ever before are surviving the diagnosis of cancer. For this reason, survivorship care is now recognized as a unique phase in overall cancer care.

According to the Institute of Medicine, survivorship care is a specific approach to address the long-term needs of cancer survivors and managing long-term and late effects, as well as health promotion. Survivorship embraces four components: the prevention and detection of new cancers and recurrent cancer; surveillance for recurrence or new primary cancers; intervention for long-term and late effects from cancer and its therapies and the coordination between specialists and primary care physicians to ensure that all survivors’ needs are met. High quality survivorship care includes monitoring for and managing psychosocial and medical late effects, screening recommendations, health education to survivors regarding their diagnoses and treatment, genetic risks (as appropriate), guidance about diet, exercise and health promotion activities, resources to assist with financial and insurance issues and empowering survivors to advocate for their own healthcare needs.

Cancer survivors are not all alike, and their needs vary. Regardless of their individual needs, they all require education regarding their own health risks and screening needs. When survivors have completed their treatment, it can be a time of mixed emotions. Many survivors are not sure of what to do next. It is important for survivors to have tools to help them move beyond their illness and positively impact their quality of life. A Survivorship Care Plan for patients, presented and reviewed by a healthcare professional, may be the key to improved survivor outcome. The Survivorship Care Plan will also help transition a survivor back to their primary care provider with a concise summary and plan for their future.


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