Cancer survivorship is more than just living with cancer. A cancer survivor is defined as anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis on. More people today are surviving cancer than ever before thanks to earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment. The Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) Survivorship Program sees patients who have undergone treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. Our aim is to help survivors transition from treatment back into their lives and stay as healthy as possible.
Cancer survivors face many challenges. There are physical, psychological and social issues related to cancer treatment. The health needs of a cancer survivor are different from those who have never faced a cancer diagnosis.
What is a Survivorship Program?
The MVHS Survivorship Program offers special follow-up care and monitoring for cancer survivors. Cancer and its treatment can result in short-lasting, long-lasting or late onset effects. The MVHS Survivorship Program addresses various problems cancer survivors may face. These may include but are not limited to:
- Lymphedema (swelling of limbs)
- Fear of recurrence
- Living with uncertainty
- Memory issues
- Neuropathy (pain or numbness in hands or feet)
- Change in bone density
- Sexual dysfunction
- Cardiovascular risks
- Weight loss or gain.
The Survivorship Visit Consists of:
- A visit with a provider whose expertise includes cancer care and the specific issues survivors may face years after treatment.
- A review of medical history
- Evaluation for short- and long-term effects of treatment
- Health education for prevention of new problems
- Healthy lifestyle recommendations for cancer risk reduction
- Screening guidelines for other cancers
- Follow-up test recommendations based on treatments received and NCCN guidelines
- Any needed referrals to specialists, resources or services (physical therapy, dietitian, social worker, etc.)
- Developing a treatment summary and survivorship care plan.
What is the Treatment Summary and Survivorship Care Plan?
A treatment summary and survivorship care plan is an outline of the patient’s cancer history including important details of the diagnosis and treatment as well as the plan of action for moving forward. Long-term follow-up guidelines include:
- A schedule for follow-up visits
- Screening recommendations for late effects of treatment
- A list of common side effects of treatment with suggestions for options to help manage these
- Wellness recommendations aimed to decrease the risk of recurrence, improve quality of life and overall health.
- Physical therapist
- Social worker
- Support groups
- Wellness manager.