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Childhood cancer survivors have unique health care needs. A survivorship care plan can empower survivors and their health care providers to work together to meet those needs.
The plan is a concise, complete record of a patient’s treatment, specific medical concerns, and recommended health screenings – all contained in one document.
Because childhood cancer is rare, most primary care health providers may only see 1 or 2 childhood cancer survivors during their medical careers. As a result, they may not be familiar with the late effects of childhood cancer treatment. Late effects are health conditions that develop later, months or years after treatment has finished. Depending on the treatment, survivors may need certain health screenings earlier or more frequently than other adults.
The survivor’s pediatric cancer center can provide a survivor with his or her plan. Some centers have online tools for survivors to create their own. Survivors typically receive an updated copy each time they visit the long-term follow-up clinic at their pediatric cancer center.
Survivors can easily share survivorship care plans with their primary care physician and other health care providers including dentists, eye doctors, counselors, and chiropractors if they see one. They should have an updated plan with them each time they visit a provider.
Survivors should know as much as possible about the treatment they received and the follow-up care they need. For example, a patient who received radiation to the chest area may be at higher risk for breast cancer, heart problems, and lung conditions. It helps the primary care physician and survivor to know these risks to know when to schedule certain screenings, to run specific tests, and consult a specialist if needed.
Each plan is specific to that patient.
The summary of treatment contains:
It may include:
Marie McGrory, a pediatric cancer survivor, discusses her survivorship with Steve Clemons from The Atlantic.
Together does not endorse any branded product mentioned in this article.
Reviewed: June 2018