ASCO 2011: Survivorship Care Plans

Sessions on kidney cancer start tomorrow at 8:00 am, but in the meantime we are learning about Survivorship Care Plans — and why we need them for kidney cancer patients.

Whose Job is It Anyway?
Interesting study in the U.S. of over 1,000 oncologists and over 1,000 PCPs (primary care physicians) revealed that BOTH groups felt that the primary care physician should not have the primary responsibility for follow-up care. Oncologists strongly believed that primary care physicians do not have the required knowledge or skills to detect recurrent cancer (of either breast or colorectal cancer, two of the most common cancers).

How Many Patients are given a Treatment Summary and Survivorship Care Plan?
For breast or colorectal cancer in the U.S., only half (47%) of oncologists report that they give their patients a written treatment summary and follow-up care plan. That number is considered low with much discussion of what needs to happen to go beyond the written document. Patients need both guidelines and guidance — including discussions about exercise, fatigue, weight management, and smoking cessation.

So What About Kidney Cancer in Canada?
Not surprisingly, kidney cancer lags far behind breast and colorectal cancers. We have no templates for survivorship care plans for kidney cancer patients yet. (However, the Kidney Cancer Research Network of Canada discussed the need for survivorship plans in January of this year).

In the meantime, all patients need to ask for a summary of their treatment and discuss what they can be doing for their own follow-up care (including surveillance schedules and lifestyle modifications) to help reduce the risk of further health complications.

More tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “ASCO 2011: Survivorship Care Plans

  1. If it is up to the patient to ask for a summary of their treatment and discuss with their doctors what they can be doing for their follow up, then we have to presume that both the patient and the doctor are knowledgeable about what is required, for kidney cancer patients. Sort of a catch 22.

    As an individual with stage 1, I look forward to the day when either the kidney cancer specialists oversee ALL kidney cancer survivors, or an all-out campaign is directed towards educating patients and family doctors on proper follow up for this cancer.

  2. The fundamental problem is in the education of GPs and the expectation by patients that they know about cancer care. They DO NOT know what to do other than to refer the patient to the cancer specialist. If you don’t believe me just ask your GP. If they are honest the answer will be along the lines of, “I have been in practice for 30 years and have seen two kidney cancer patients, so I don’t really know anything about the disease or how to care for it.” So as patients we need to self-educate and share our findings with our doctors, Oncologists included. When I told my Oncologist about the early findings of the Afinitor study (Motzer) which led to its early stoppage for ethical reasons and its amazing results, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Just another copy cat drug!” So you decide who needs the education. As for the Suvivorship Plans, patients need to demand them and have copies of all tests attached to them for future reference. Then manage them for you and the doctor.

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