I read an article that I found very interesting from the San Diego BC Symposium.
According to the American Cancer Society, progress in detection and treatment of breast cancer has resulted in decreasing 5-year mortality rates in most segments of the population during the 1990s. These people ("us") face a new set of long-term health risks – such as nerve damage, relapse, heart disease or infertility – as well as numerous psychological and social consequences largely overlooked by healthcare providers.
It provides specific recommendations to improve our quality of life so we are aware of potential health risks and can avoid breast cancer’s possible long-lasting health effects. It also stresses the need for doctors, insurance companies and policymakers to recognize that our special needs may be just beginning when active treatment ends, and that customized follow-up is needed for years beyond.
A primary recommendation is for oncologists to provide us with a “survivorship plan” to guide our long-term care. This plan would summarize our breast cancer care and treatment; give tips for detecting and preventing recurrent breast cancers and explain long-term consequences of treatment; explain legal protections regarding employment and insurance; and provide available psychological and support resources.
Currently, no organized system links oncology care to primary care, the committee reported. Primary care physicians and other healthcare providers are often unfamiliar with the consequences of breast cancer, and seldom receive explicit guidance from oncologists.
For survivorship plans to be carried out successfully, the study calls for more communication and coordination among doctors who treat health problems described in the report. It also stresses the need to develop clinical care guidelines to assure the quality of care given to us.
Many of us have finished treatments or are just about to finish. I think it would be a great idea for us to talk w/ our onco about what this article says. I am fortunate that my onco, primary care physician and surgeon have all work hand-in-hand since my initial diagnosis. Each receives a report from the other. If there is a question that either my surgeon or pcp has, then they contact my oncologist.
Please take the time to read this article and discuss it w/ your medical team.
Here is the link: http://www.lbbc.org/news-detail.asp?news_id=447