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J Clin Oncol. 2006 Nov 10;24(32):5112-6.

Failing to plan is planning to fail: improving the quality of care with survivorship care plans.

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  • 1Division of Population Sciences, Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The recent Institute of Medicine report "From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition" recommended the creation of survivorship care plans for patients as they complete primary therapy for cancer to ensure clarity for all involved about patients' diagnoses, treatments received, and surveillance plans. Any previously existing follow-up guidelines for cancer survivors have been largely restricted to surveillance for recurrence of the primary disease. An important message of the Institute of Medicine report is that survivorship care plans must surpass this and address the chronic effects of cancer (pain, fatigue, premature menopause, depression/anxiety), monitoring for and preventing late effects like osteoporosis, heart disease, and second malignancies, and promoting healthy lifestyles. It should explicitly identify the providers responsible for each aspect of ongoing care and provide information on resources available for psychosocial and other practical issues that may arise as a result of the prior cancer diagnosis. Although having some sort of a plan is clearly necessary to achieve high quality care, there are practical barriers to formal off-treatment consultations and the creation of written documents that may become part of the medical record. This article reviews the elements of the proposed survivorship care plan and discusses areas of research and development needed to make them part of standard oncology practice.

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