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Survivorship Champions

Clinicians and Researchers Improving Care for Cancer Survivors

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Survivorship Champions

What is Survivorship Champions?

  • NCCS’ program for clinicians and researchers who are interested in improving care for cancer survivors.
  • A community, with a multi-directional information exchange about best practices, lessons learned, and effective models of survivorship care.

The Need

Lost in TransitionAs treatments for cancer improve, more people are living with a history of cancer, and the long-term effects of cancer treatment. With more than 17 million cancer survivors in the U.S., the current oncology workforce is not sufficient to handle the acute needs of cancer patients who are in treatment, or who have completed treatment. Thus, it is imperative that some of the responsibility for providing survivorship care shifts from oncologists to primary care physicians.  Even survivors who require continued follow-up by their oncology team need primary care physicians who understand their cancer experience and their health needs in post-treatment survivorship.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies issued a report in 2005, “From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition,” that included several recommendations for improving the quality of care for survivors as they transition from active treatment to long-term survivorship. In response, NCCS and other patient and provider organizations worked to implement key recommendations of the report. Despite these efforts, cancer survivors in 2021 too often describe their movement from active treatment as a time of being “lost in transition,” exactly the experience and emotion captured by the Institute of Medicine in 2005.

Join Survivorship Champions

Survivorship Champions is for all clinicians and researchers, both oncology and primary care, who are interested in improving survivorship care and primary care’s role in caring for cancer survivors.

It’s free to join NCCS Survivorship Champions, and as a member you’ll receive information and resources from NCCS, invitations to webinars, and access to training materials about improving care for cancer survivors.
Learn more and sign up to join Survivorship Champions.

Introduction

Shelley Fuld Nasso, MPP

CEO, NCCS

NCCS has an incredible network of advocates, cancer survivors and caregivers, who are passionate about sharing their experiences and advocating for better, more holistic care for cancer survivors. Please enjoy these videos, in which long-term survivors describe their post-treatment needs and challenges in receiving survivorship care.

Ana María López, MD, MPH

Sidney Kimmel Medical College

As a medical oncologist, I see my job as taking care of the whole person with cancer, from diagnosis through post-treatment survivorship. In my career, I have seen the gaps in care that cancer patients face, during treatment and as they transition to post-treatment care. As Past President of the American College of Physicians, I know the challenges that primary care physicians face in practice and the desire of primary care physicians to learn more about the needs of cancer survivors. Through Survivorship Champions, we hope to provide support, resources, best practices, and community to clinicians and researchers who are interested in improving survivorship care.

Take Our Concerns Seriously

People talk about a “new normal” after cancer, but many cancer survivors say that there is no such thing as a new normal. After a cancer diagnosis, their lives have been changed forever. Fear of recurrence is a significant and often debilitating concern for many cancer survivors. And the effects of cancer treatment are long-lasting. Cancer survivors tell us that they need their care team to take their concerns seriously.

Understand the Collateral Damage of Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment has long-lasting effects on cancer survivors’ physical health, mental health, and quality of life. Some use the term “collateral damage” to describe the effects of cancer treatment. Some treatments cause infertility, heart damage, neuropathy, and other significant health effects. Cancer survivors tell us that they are not always prepared for the long-term effects, and they wish their primary care team better understood the long-term effects of cancer treatment.

Communication Is Critical

Cancer patients and survivors see multiple different doctors as part of their ongoing medical care, and often the task of coordinating among different clinicians falls on the patient. Many cancer survivors become strong advocates for themselves and share information among their providers, but it can be a huge burden. Communication between the oncology team and primary care physician is critical to ensuring continuity and coordination of care.

Mental Health Is a Top Concern

A cancer diagnosis takes a huge toll on mental health. Cancer turns one’s world upside down and forces survivors to face their mortality. In NCCS’ 2020 State of Cancer Survivorship Survey, fatigue and mental health issues are among the most common side effects reported by cancer patients and survivors, yet few reported that their health care teams were very helpful in addressing these concerns during treatment, and most reported their doctors did not bring up mental health during post-treatment care.

Cancer Survivors are Unique Patients

Cancer survivors are unique patients. They have been through a life-changing experience and cancer treatment not only impacts their health, but also their finances, their family, their careers and their mental health. Cancer survivors often take on the responsibility of managing their treatments and coordinating among multiple providers. As a result, they often know an incredible amount of information about their own health and the health care system. Meeting cancer patients where they are, and listening to their concerns, is critical.

Join Survivorship Champions

Who should join?

  • Clinicians and researchers, both oncology and primary care, who are interested in improving survivorship care and primary care’s role in caring for cancer survivors.
  • We welcome early-career clinicians and researchers, including medical students, residents and fellows.

Benefits of Joining

  • Information and resources from NCCS about improving survivorship care.
  • Newsletter and webinars.
  • Access to NCCS experts and advocates who can deliver a customized Survivorship 101 and/or Grand Rounds presentation for your institution, including a discussion of survivors’ needs, a cancer survivor’s story, and data from NCCS’ State of Cancer Survivorship Survey.

*Please note: Survivorship Champions is an NCCS program to support and engage clinicians and researchers. If you are a survivor or patient advocate interested in becoming involved in advocacy, please join our Cancer Policy & Advocacy Team.

Survivorship Champions is supported by an educational grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb.