What exactly is cancer survivorship?
Regardless of your personal definition of a cancer survivor, survivorship is recognized nationally as the span of time between an individual’s cancer diagnosis and the end of his or her life. Survivorship care has become increasingly important as the number of cancer survivors continues to grow in the US. Research and recommendations by nationally-recognized organizations such as the National Cancer Institute, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the LIVESTRONG Foundation have blossomed over the last several years. The long-term and late effects of cancer and its treatment have emphasized the need for survivorship programs that address the myriad of physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual, and economic concerns experienced by this growing population.
How are healthcare professionals involved in survivorship?
As nationally-recognized organizations continue to release guidelines and recommendations around survivorship care, the diverse role of healthcare professionals has become clearer. Today, cancer survivorship transcends specialties; it is no longer solely dependent upon an oncologist or primary care physician to care for cancer survivors. Further, survivorship expands beyond the physician or nurse to include an array of healthcare professionals including social workers, physical and occupational therapists, dieticians, health educators, and more. Any healthcare professional engaged in the care of a cancer survivor must be aware of national treatment guidelines and recommendations, standard of care, and the many unique needs of cancer survivors. With increased awareness and education, all members of the healthcare workforce in Georgia can help to advance the quality of life for cancer survivors in our state.