Southeastern Health

Survivorship

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Cancer was once considered a certain death, however, the number of people alive following a diagnosis of cancer has risen dramatically in the United States - from 3 million in 1971 to about 12 million today. That number is expected to grow to 20 million by 2020. The significant improvement in cancer survival is due to a number of factors, including better tools for screening and diagnosis, and better treatments and improvements in managing side effects of treatment. Survivorship begins the day a person receives a diagnosis of cancer and continues throughout their life as they live with cancer.  Some must cope with long-term effects of cancer and its treatment.  Even those who have no sign of active cancer are not free from cancer; not free from the worry about the cancer.

While the increasing number of survivors is encouraging, health care must address the diverse needs of survivors by focusing on their medical, psychosocial, and financial needs.   Survivors should have regular surveillance for recurrent or new cancer and receive education on health-promoting activities, such as proper diet, exercise, smoking cessation; and other interventions promoting wellness.  In addition, cancer survivors may have other medical problems related to their cancer treatment, such as heart disease and abnormalities in metabolism that require more frequent monitoring.

Optimal survivor health needs collaboration between health care providers and within the community to maximize resources available.  In addition to traditional medical follow up, survivors need access to physical rehabilitation and exercise training as well as psychological support or support groups and occasionally pain management expertise.

Challenges for cancer patients can exist beyond the initial diagnosis and treatment period.  As the number of cancer survivors continues to grow, health care providers play a critical role in meeting the demands of cancer survivors to ensure this population doesn’t just “survive,” but thrives.  To that end, Gibson Cancer Center, in partnership with Robeson County Relay for Life, will be sponsoring a Survivors’ Celebration on Friday, May 4 at the Southeastern Agricultural Center in Lumberton.  Registration is requested for the event and will begin at 2:30 pm. Free activities will include mini-massages, face painting, photo keepsakes, and a keynote address.  Held annually, the Survivors’ Celebration is an opportunity for health care providers, patients and families to celebrate the courage, strength, and perseverance of cancer survivors.  For more information about the event, call Gibson Cancer Center at 671-5730.

 

References:

http://www.cancer.net/patient/Survivorship/About+Survivorship

Lester, J., Schmitt, P. Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship.  2011.  Oncology Nursing Society.

Hansen, L.A.  Conquering the Cancer Care Continuum. 2011.  Green hill Healthcare Communication, LLC.

 

Dr. Linda Sutton is a medical oncologist at Gibson Cancer Center, an affiliate of Southeastern Regional Medical Center. She also serves as an associate professor of medicine and associate chief medical officer network services at Duke University Health System.

 
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Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1408,
300 West 27th St., Lumberton
NC 28359

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