What does it mean to be a ‘survivor’?
According to the National Institute of Health and the American Cancer Society: an individual is considered (to be) a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life.
Facts about Survivors (American Cancer Society):
• The majority of cancer survivors (67%) were diagnosed 5 or more years ago
• 18% of cancer survivors were diagnosed 20 or more years ago
• Nearly two-thirds (64%) of cancer survivors are 65 years of age or older
Challenges During Survivorship
Cancer survivors may continue to experience physical effects such as pain and fatigue, social and emotional issues including anxiety, uncertainty and fear of recurrence and may face concrete issues including financial concerns and returning to work. Survivors may have difficulty integrating into their ‘post-treatment’ life and strive to make meaning of their experience. Survivorship programs can help address some of these common concerns.
Resources for Survivors
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council outlines the essential components of survivorship:
• Prevention of new and recurrent cancers and other late effects
• Surveillance for cancer spread, recurrence, or second cancers
• Assessment of late psychosocial and medical effects
• Intervention for consequences of cancer and treatment (e.g., medical problems, symptoms, psychologic distress, financial and social concerns)
• Coordination of care between primary care providers and specialists to ensure that all of the survivor’s health needs are met.
The National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the George Washington Cancer Institute, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its goal is to shape the future of post-treatment cancer survivorship care and to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors. To find out more about The Survivorship Center’s activities, visit www.cancer.org/survivorshipcenter. Check out the “Life After Treatment: The Next Chapter in your Survivorship Journey” site here: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/cancer-control/en/booklets-flyers/life-after-treatment-next-chapter-in-your-survivorship-journey.pdf