With a cancer diagnosis, having an idea of what to expect and where to find support can be helpful. You and your loved ones can turn to MaineHealth to find the support and information you need.
Who Is A Cancer Survivor?
Survivorship begins as soon as a diagnosis of cancer is made. Any person with a history of cancer is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of life, and includes living with, through, and beyond a cancer diagnosis. The latest estimates indicate there are 16.9 million cancer survivors in the United States. (Source: American Cancer Society)
Survivorship includes anyone who wants support with physical or emotional concerns and stressors after being diagnosed with cancer. The person with cancer – along their friends, family and caregivers – are all part of survivorship.
What Is Survivorship?
Survivorship is the process of anticipating and addressing immediate, long term (i.e. occurs during treatment and persists), and late (i.e. begin after treatment has ended) effects from a cancer diagnosis and treatment over time. This includes routine monitoring and may include symptom management, addressing fears and concerns, rehabilitation, and ultimately focusing on positive lifestyle choices and building a support network.
Survivorship care may be different for each person, but there are some common components. (Source: National Comprehensive Cancer Network) These include:
- Prevention: Of cancer recurrence, new cancers, and/or late effects
- Monitoring (Surveillance): For cancer recurrence or late effects
- Routine Testing (Screening): For new cancers
- Assessment and Treatment: Of late effects of cancer and treatment
- Care Coordination: Communication and partnerships between the survivor and providers
- Planning: For ongoing survivorship care
- Health Promotion: Strategies such as health eating, physical activity, and stress management
There are phases of survivorship, with each phase associated with different time periods and personal experiences following diagnosis.
Extended or Permanent Survivorship
|Diagnosis and Treatment
Advanced cancer, which may include ongoing treatment with Palliative Care
The end of active treatment
Support for Recovery
Usual timing of a survivorship visit and development of a Survivorship Care Plan
Goal is to resume preferred activities
- MMC Cancer Institute Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) & Adult Cancer Survivorship Clinic ›
- American Cancer Society’s Life After Treatment: The Next Chapter in Your Survivorship Journey ›
- National Cancer Institute’s Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment ›
- The Dempsey Center ›
It takes a team approach to provide support during each phase of survivorship. Resources are available to help to manage symptoms, address concerns and support healthy choices.
Diet and Nutrition
|Mental and Emotional Health
|Body Image Concerns
Mind Body Technique
|Return to Work
|Fear of Recurrence
After the patient’s full cancer treatment plan is completed, a Survivorship Care Plan provides two important components:
- A complete cancer treatment summary (i.e. surgery, medical oncology and radiation oncology);
- A schedule for future monitoring and medical appointments (who to see and when), and recommendations for healthy lifestyle choices (what the survivor can do for themselves).
The Survivorship Care Plan is most often provided during a survivorship visit. It is a document designed for both the cancer survivor and their primary care provider.
- For the patient, this document can provide opportunities to be the best advocate for themselves in the future in long-term survivorship. It offers ways to reduce risks and empowers the survivor to take an active role in their health. It also indicates things to look out for, and times when you should contact your provider. In the event that a person moves, or changes providers, sharing this document can be helpful to provide a clear cancer history and plan for future monitoring.
- For the primary provider, this document specifies the important aspects of caring for an individual with this particular cancer treatment history.
During the transition of making it through cancer (transitional survivorship phase), please discuss the option of receiving a Survivorship Care Plan with your cancer surgeon or medical oncology provider (e.g. MD, DO, PA or NP).
Thrive: Survivorship Digital Magazine
Designed for adult cancer survivors and their loved ones, the goals of Thrive are to provide important information, share inspiring stories, and offer helpful resources across our Network.
Sign up to stay in touch and receive our quarterly e-newsletter - Thrive: Survivorship Digital Magazine.