Life After Cancer: What Is a Cancer Survivorship Care Plan?
A survivorship care plan is a detailed plan just for you. It helps you move forward after cancer treatment. Many health groups say that healthcare providers should make such a plan for all of their patients after cancer care.
The care plan is a record of your cancer history. It has information to help you after cancer treatment. You can share it with your current or future healthcare providers. Always keep a copy of your care plan for your own records.
What are the goals of a survivorship care plan?
A survivorship care plan can be used to help you:
Move your routine care back to your main care provider so you can get screenings, flu shots, and other care
Make sure that you stay in touch with your healthcare providers as needed
Make sure you are treated for physical and emotional side effects
Check for a second cancer (a second new cancer) or recurring cancer (cancer that comes back after treatment)
Help you make healthy life changes so you can handle or prevent problems
Help cut your risk of needing emergency care or a hospital stay
Help you find support after cancer care
Do I need a survivorship care plan?
Survivorship care plans are not required. But they can help people adjust to life after cancer treatment. The plan can help you collect all the details about your cancer and treatment. You can then refer to it, if needed. It’s a record you can share with other healthcare providers who take care of you. It can help you know what to do to stay healthy after treatment. And it can tell you how to watch for future problems. It can also give you information to help handle things like emotional, legal, and financial issues.
What’s in a survivorship care plan?
A survivorship care plan has a lot of details in it. It’s a record of your cancer care. It's also a map to help you in the weeks, months, and years ahead. The plan should list the kinds of care you need after treatment. It should also include who will be giving that care and how these providers can work together to help you. Here are some of the things the plan covers:
Facts about your cancer, such as the type, the date it was found, and its stage, grade, and markers
Diagnostic tests and their results
All types of treatment you had
Dates and places of treatment
Types of medicine used and the doses
Side effects you had from each treatment
Other care you had, such as seeing a nutritionist, physical therapist, or counselor
Genetic testing done and the results, as well as whether you or family members may have genetic risk factors for cancer
Contact details for all of your cancer care providers and their specialties
It will also note things you need to know going forward, such as:
Long-term and late treatment effects you have or may have later, such as heart or lung problems or fertility issues
Tips on dealing with any lasting side effects, like fatigue, chemo brain, or problems during sex
Any ongoing treatment you need, such as long-term medicines (their names, doses, and purpose)
Your risk for recurring cancer or a second cancer
Any follow-up tests you need and when to have them
List of symptoms or problems for which you should call your healthcare providers and how to reach them
Referral for counseling, support groups, and other types of emotional help
Contact details for all of your follow-up healthcare providers
It may give tips to help you be healthy, such as:
Eating a healthy diet
Getting to or staying at a healthy weight
Not using any form of tobacco or making a plan to quit
Not drinking alcohol, or limiting use
It may also help you with:
Talking with your healthcare team
Ask your healthcare providers if they can put together a survivorship care plan for you. Not all cancer care teams do this. But you can also make your own. Talk with your healthcare team and ask for the details above.