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Life After Cancer: What Is a Cancer Survivorship Care Plan?

A survivorship care plan is a detailed plan just for you. It helps you move forward after cancer treatment. Many health groups say that healthcare providers should make such a plan for all of their patients after cancer care.

The care plan is a record of your cancer history. It has information to help you after cancer treatment. You can share it with your current or future healthcare providers. Always keep a copy of your care plan for your own records.

What are the goals of a survivorship care plan?

A survivorship care plan can be used to help you: 

  • Move your routine care back to your main care provider so you can get screenings, flu shots, and other care

  • Make sure that you stay in touch with your healthcare providers as needed

  • Make sure you are treated for physical and emotional side effects

  • Check for a second cancer (a second new cancer) or recurring cancer (cancer that comes back after treatment)

  • Help you make healthy life changes so you can handle or prevent problems

  • Help cut your risk of needing emergency care or a hospital stay

  • Help you find support after cancer care

Do I need a survivorship care plan?

Survivorship care plans are not required. But they can help people adjust to life after cancer treatment. The plan can help you collect all the details about your cancer and treatment. You can then refer to it, if needed. It’s a record you can share with other healthcare providers who take care of you. It can help you know what to do to stay healthy after treatment. And it can tell you how to watch for future problems. It can also give you information to help handle things like emotional, legal, and financial issues.

What’s in a survivorship care plan?

A survivorship care plan has a lot of details in it. It’s a record of your cancer care. It's also a map to help you in the weeks, months, and years ahead. The plan should list the kinds of care you need after treatment. It should also include who will be giving that care and how these providers can work together to help you. Here are some of the things the plan covers:

  • Facts about your cancer, such as the type, the date it was found, and its stage, grade, and markers

  • Diagnostic tests and their results

  • All types of treatment you had

  • Dates and places of treatment

  • Types of medicine used and the doses

  • Side effects you had from each treatment

  • Other care you had, such as seeing a nutritionist, physical therapist, or counselor

  • Genetic testing done and the results, as well as whether you or family members may have genetic risk factors for cancer 

  • Contact details for all of your cancer care providers and their specialties 

It will also note things you need to know going forward, such as:

  • Long-term and late treatment effects you have or may have later, such as heart or lung problems or fertility issues

  • Tips on dealing with any lasting side effects, like fatigue, chemo brain, or problems during sex

  • Any ongoing treatment you need, such as long-term medicines (their names, doses, and purpose)

  • Your risk for recurring cancer or a second cancer

  • Any follow-up tests you need and when to have them

  • List of symptoms or problems for which you should call your healthcare providers and how to reach them

  • Referral for counseling, support groups, and other types of emotional help

  • Contact details for all of your follow-up healthcare providers

It may give tips to help you be healthy, such as: 

  • Eating a healthy diet

  • Getting exercise

  • Getting to or staying at a healthy weight

  • Not using any form of tobacco or making a plan to quit

  • Not drinking alcohol, or limiting use

  • Using sunscreen 

It may also help you with: 

  • Health insurance problems

  • Job concerns linked to health and cancer

  • Financial aid

  • Life insurance issues

  • Other helpful resources 

Talking with your healthcare team 

Ask your healthcare providers if they can put together a survivorship care plan for you. Not all cancer care teams do this. But you can also make your own. Talk with your healthcare team and ask for the details above.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham
Online Medical Reviewer: Richard LoCicero MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2019
© 2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
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