Patients who are considered to be at high risk for cancer recurrence or those who are not completely disease free after their first course of treatment continue to be seen by the medical oncologist.
All other patients return to the care of their family/primary physician or provider.
The Survivorship Care Plan helps ensure that cancer survivors, and their physicians, have ready access to a complete record of their cancer therapy - medications, dosages, frequency, radiation received, surgeries performed, etc. The Survivorship Care Plan outlines:
- Possible side effects that may be experienced as a result of the treatment regimen received
- Important disease characteristics. For example, a breast cancer patient will always need to take extra care of the arm on the side where treatment was received; colon patients will need to be aware of changes in bowel habits, etc.
- The Survivorship Care Plan outlines specific tests and treatments that should be received in the future, and the schedule for these, such as every three months, every six months, annually and so on.
- Each Survivorship Care Plan is customized for each patient. No two care plans will ever look exactly the same, even for people who experienced the same kind of cancer. This is an important point for patients and their providers to know.
The Survivorship Care Plan includes information about the specific chemotherapy drugs given, their dosages and radiation exposure. This is important should the cancer recur or a new cancer develop, as there are lifetime limits on some medications. If a patient moves to another city or state, or enters into a relationship with a new provider, this information will be available to them.
Should future research demonstrate new or unknown risks of medications/treatments received, the patient and provider will have the needed information available to make informed decisions.
The Survivorship Care Plan is created on evidence. This assists the clinician in educating patients on why some tests are performed, how they benefit the patient, and the meaning of the results for that specific patient.
Finally, the Survivorship Care Plan assists the patient and clinician in avoiding unnecessary tests and studies and the possibility of undergoing invasive procedures that are not beneficial.