Why do we even need one?
A patient called us recently to express her thanks, and to let us know that she now really understood the importance of her Survivorship Care plan.
On her latest visit to Survivorship Partners, we updated and reviewed her Survivorship Care Plan. She knew she was at risk for infertility as a result of her chemotherapy. When she went to her gynecologist to find answers about this issue, she was met with skepticism and told that “.. she was too young to be infertile”. Our newly empowered patient was armed with her Survivorship Care Plan and pulled it out to show her gynecologist. Reluctantly, her gynecologist agreed to do some baseline tests. The Survivorship Care Plan proved to be a powerful tool for this young woman!
What is a Survivorship Care Plan?
A survivorship care plan is the record of a patient’s cancer history, with recommendations for follow-up care and healthy living after cancer. The plan should define the responsibilities of each member of the healthcare team, including cancer and non-cancer related providers.
In 2006, the Institute of Medicine issued a report recommending that every cancer patient receive an individualized survivorship care plan that includes guidelines for monitoring and maintaining their health. The main goal of a Survivorship Care Plan is to help improve the quality of care of survivors as they move beyond their cancer treatment. This document serves as a communication and education tool that Survivors can provide to all of their health care providers of various disciplines. For example, Primary Care providers find the care plan especially helpful in managing the needs of survivors after treatment is completed.
Different Components of a Survivorship Care Plan
The Treatment Summary section typically contains information on:
- Tumor characteristics, including site, stage, grade
- Details on treatment
- Type of treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, transplantation, hormone therapy, gene therapy or other)
- Agents used (regimen, total dosage)
- Dates of treatment
- Serious side effects
- Support services provided (psychological, nutritional, other)
- Contact information for treating institutions and key individual providers
The Follow-up Care section typically contains information on:
- Possible late and long-term effects of treatment and their symptoms
- Possible psychological effects and potential need for psychological support
- Information on possible insurance, employment and financial consequences
- Need for ongoing health maintenance, and specific recommendations for lifestyle changes to promote health and reduce risk of cancers and chronic disease
- Referrals as necessary to specialists (such as Genetic Counseling)
Where can I Get a Survivorship Care Plan?
Survivorship Partners can create a Survivorship Care Plan, tailored to your individual needs. To start the process, contact us. We can help to determine if you need to see other types of providers for specific issues and medical problems and make those referrals.