Understanding Survivorship

What is a survivor?

  • According to the National Cancer Institute, an individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis through the balance of his or her life.  Family members, friends, and caregivers are also affected by the survivorship experience and are therefore included in that definition. Pan-Canadian Guidance on Organization and Structure of Survivorship Serves and Psychosocial-Supportive Care Best Practices for Adult Cancer Survivors.

What is “Survivorship?”

  • Survivorship, in the context of cancer, describes the period of time in which a person remains alive following a cancer diagnosis.
  • The Office of Cancer Survivorship of the National Cancer Institute suggest that “family members, friends, and care-givers are also impacted by the survivorship experience and are therefore included in this definition. Why Labels Matter 12 (p10).

Survivorship Care Components

  • To ensure the supportive care and health care needs of survivors are appropriately addressed, a number of components of survivorship care have been identified:
    • surveillance for recurence,
    • evaluation of and treatment for medical and psychosocial consequences of treatment,
    • recommendations for screening for new primary cancers,
    • health promotion recommendations, and
    • provision of a written care plan to the patient and other health professionals. (Survivorship care: models and programs, McCabe)
  • Oncology experts specifically recommend follow-up survivorship care plans to prepare survivors for the transition from the active treatment phase to the post-treatment phase.
  • Follow-up care plans are essential for empowering survivors and primary care practitioners and informing them of the follow-up care and monitoring required. Pan-Canadian Guidance on Organization and Structure of Survivorship Services and Psychosocial-Supportive Care Best Practices for Adult Cancer Survivors.