You’re listening to Project Oncology on ReachMD. On this episode, we’ll hear from Dr. Michelle Mollica, the Deputy Director at the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship. Dr. Mollica will share her insights on cancer survivorship models. Let’s hear from her now.
Cancer survivors have a wide range of experiences and needs after their cancer diagnosis and during and after treatment. They may have physical symptoms, including pain or fatigue, or psychological symptoms, like distress or anxiety. There’s also the financial impact of having a cancer diagnosis. Cancer survivorship care is complex, and it includes surveillance for recurrence and new cancers, management of the physical and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment, health promotion, and care coordination. Because every survivor’s experience is different, it’s really important to assess cancer survivors early and often to determine their specific needs.
There have been many advances in the fields of epidemiology and surveillance for cancer survivors. First, the National Cancer Institute has led the way on methods to estimate the number of people diagnosed with and living with cancer and the projected estimates for years to come through the SEER data resource. In addition, SEER-Medicare allows an exploration of healthcare claims linked to cancer registry data. And, finally, we have many epidemiological cohort studies funded through the National Cancer Institute to look at risk factors and outcomes among cancer survivors who have been diagnosed with multiple cancer types.
People living with advanced and metastatic cancer that is likely incurable are a unique population with unique needs. Many of these people cycle on and off treatment or have periods with and without their cancer. Because of this, they may have great uncertainty about the future. With advances in treatment and supportive care, we know that many people who have been diagnosed with advanced and metastatic cancer are living longer and may have many survivorship needs. We are just beginning to learn more about those needs, but we know that they include physical symptoms; psychosocial needs, which may include distress, anxiety, depression; and even substantial needs for caregiver support. Survivors and healthcare providers can find many resources through NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4Cancer.
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