Survivorship is defined as the state or condition of being a survivor. At this point in a cancer survivor’s life, they are now transitioning into a new way of life. 

Living with cancer refers to the experience of receiving a cancer diagnosis and any treatment that may follow. During this time:

  • Patients will undergo treatment and may be asked to join a clinical trial to study new cancer therapies.
  • Patients and their caregivers may be offered services to help cope with emotional psychological and financial concerns.

Living through cancer is the period following treatment in which the risk of cancer recurring is relatively high. May patients are relived that treatment is over, but anxious about no longer seeing their cancer doctor on a regular basis. During this stage patients typically see their cancer doctor two to four times a year depending on their circumstances.

Living beyond cancer refers to post-treatment and long-term survivorship. While two out of three survivors say their lives have returned to normal, one-third report continuing physical, psychosocial or financial consequences. During this stage:

  • Most survivors return to the care of their primary physician
  • Ideally, survivors will have developed long-term health 

Your practice is committed to your survivorship and your specific needs. You may receive care documentation pertaining to:

  • Diagnostic tests and results
  • Tumor characteristics, including site(s),stage, grade, hormone status, biomarker results
  • Details on treatment:
    • Type of treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, transplantation, hormone therapy, gene therapy or other)
    • Agents used (regimen, total dosage)
    • Beginning and ending dates
    • Indicators or response to treatment
    • Toxicities
  • Support Services provided (psychological, nutritional, other)
  • Contact information for treating institutions and key individual providers
  • Name of key point of contact and coordinator of continuing care 

Palliative Care

Palliative care also known as supportive care is care that focuses on improving the quality of life by relieving symptoms from cancer. Palliative care is appropriate when a patient has advanced disease and symptom management is the highest priority in order to maintain or improve the quality of life. Any medical professional can provide palliative care by addressing the symptoms of cancer, some specialize in care for specific illnesses. A palliative care team are multidisciplinary and consists of different medical professionals to provide the best care to you as the patient. Palliative care can be received in addition to cancer treatment. When a point in cancer treatment has been reached where it is no longer helpful to treat the cancer, then to transition to palliative care can be made.

Hospice Care

When an individuals’s cancer progresses and limits his or her life, a decision may be forgo aggressive treatments. This is when a consideration is given to end of life care. Hospice is a philosophy of care to maximize comfort and quality of life. Hospice care is provided by teams consisting of both professionals and volunteers. The disciplines represented include medicine. nursing, social work and pastoral care. The physician overseeing care can be the individual’s oncologist or his or her primary care provider. The hospice medical director is a physician who coordinates between the patient’s designated doctor and the hospice team and can be called upon as a consultant to assist in management. Hospice care is most commonly provided at home, but also can be implemented when an individual is in a long-term care facility. Medicare and many private insurance companies have hospice benefits available to patients. 

Advanced Directives

An advanced directive is a document in which an individual indicates goals of care and distinct wishes to be executed when the terminal phase of life is inevitable. It is encouraged to prepare this document ahead of time. Such a document should be updated at regular intervals to reflect changes in treatment goals and personal aspirations as end of life approaches over time.