Improving Cancer Survivorship Care Coordination Through Supportive Care Clinics

02/14/18

Results of a study to be presented at the ASCO 2018 Cancer Survivorship Symposium (February 16-17, 2018; Orlando, FL) identified unmet support needs of survivors of cancer that could be addressed through improved care coordination at a comprehensive cancer center.

Physical, psychosocial, and other support needs of survivors of cancer that are unmet may lead to increased distress, anxiety, and poor quality of life. Specific patient issues identified through a needs assessment may be factored into the care coordination of survivorship and supportive care clinics.

Katharine A Amato, PhD, MPH, department of health behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY), and colleagues conducted a web-based survey aimed at gathering information of survivors of cancer regarding demographics, cancer history, comorbidities, lifestyle, cancer prevention, spiritual and emotional support, symptom management, and interest in specific services. The survey was mailed to 35,420 active patients at a comprehensive cancer center in November 2015.

A total of 1054 patients completed the survey. The majority of respondents were female (55.2%; n = 582), had stage I cancer at diagnosis (43.9%; n = 360), and had complete treatment (69.0%; n = 727). The most common cancer types among the respondents were genitourinary (23.0%; n = 238) and breast (20.5%; n = 212).

Survey results showed an average of 4.60 side effects experienced during or after treatment per respondent, the most common of which being fatigue (64.5%), pain (37.3%), weight change (33.4%), sleep disturbance (30.2%), and gastrointestinal issues (29.4%). Approximately 33% of respondents reported having a physical side effect that caused anxiety and emotional distress, particularly in regard to sexual function (69.7%) and cognitive dysfunction (43.6%).

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Financial concerns were also a notable issue for respondents; approximately 24% of participants had financial concerns due to costs of cancer treatment.

Many participants noted interest in integrative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, aerobics, Swedish massage, aromatherapy, and homeopathy. Additionally, 81.5% of respondents endorsed wanting information on nutrition.

Results of the survey showed that survivors of cancer have vast physical and psychosocial needs during and after cancer treatment, as well as a high interest in nutrition education and integrative therapies. “Improved care coordination from a dedicated cancer survivorship and supportive care clinic at a comprehensive cancer center may specifically address survivors’ issues,” Dr Amato and colleagues wrote.—Zachary Bessette