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Program designed to meet survivors’ medical, psychosocial needs

The Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Survivorship program incorporates a multidisciplinary strategy that patients said helped them transition away from treatment, according to a presenter.

The number of breast cancer survivors is increasing due to the aging population and improved treatment outcomes; however, many survivors report their medical and psychosocial needs are not met.

“When we are caring for patients, we are looking at overall health, not just breast cancer,” Elissa Throner Bantug, MHS, project director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Survivorship Program at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, said during a presentation. “There are a lot of emotional issues patients face as they end their cancer.”

Johns Hopkins established its breast cancer survivorship program in 2008. The program — a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Public Health and School of Medicine — was designed to enhance care coordination and education for patients who complete their initial treatments and transition to long-term follow-up.

“Our major goal was to develop an integrated multidisciplinary approach to survivorship … and provide one-on-one patient-centered care,” Bantug said.

The program’s website, which averages 3,000 hits per month, includes blogs, social media resources and more than 35 educational video clips that feature patients and providers.

The program also offers educational events for providers.

Beginning in May 2011, patients were offered a one-time transitional visit with a nurse practitioner who focused on individualized treatment summaries and survivorship care plans. Those plans included detailed recommendations related to screening/surveillance, psychosocial support and care coordination with noncancer health providers.

Forty patients (median age, 51 years) participated in the pilot phase. In a visit after the survey, 37 patients (97%) said they found the visit beneficial. All participants reported that the one-time consultation helped as they transitioned away from treatment.

“A multidisciplinary, patient-centered approach to breast cancer survivorship allowed us to develop comprehensive clinical and educational service models to benefit patients and their cancer/non-cancer providers,” Bantug and colleagues concluded. “This program aims to enhance education, overcome the fragmentation of the health care system, and improve overall health and wellness of breast cancer survivors as they transition to long-term survivorship.”

For more information:

Bantug ET. Abstract #61. Presented at: 2012 Breast Cancer Symposium; Sept. 13-15, 2012; San Francisco.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

The Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Survivorship program incorporates a multidisciplinary strategy that patients said helped them transition away from treatment, according to a presenter.

The number of breast cancer survivors is increasing due to the aging population and improved treatment outcomes; however, many survivors report their medical and psychosocial needs are not met.

“When we are caring for patients, we are looking at overall health, not just breast cancer,” Elissa Throner Bantug, MHS, project director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Survivorship Program at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, said during a presentation. “There are a lot of emotional issues patients face as they end their cancer.”

Johns Hopkins established its breast cancer survivorship program in 2008. The program — a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Public Health and School of Medicine — was designed to enhance care coordination and education for patients who complete their initial treatments and transition to long-term follow-up.

“Our major goal was to develop an integrated multidisciplinary approach to survivorship … and provide one-on-one patient-centered care,” Bantug said.

The program’s website, which averages 3,000 hits per month, includes blogs, social media resources and more than 35 educational video clips that feature patients and providers.

The program also offers educational events for providers.

Beginning in May 2011, patients were offered a one-time transitional visit with a nurse practitioner who focused on individualized treatment summaries and survivorship care plans. Those plans included detailed recommendations related to screening/surveillance, psychosocial support and care coordination with noncancer health providers.

Forty patients (median age, 51 years) participated in the pilot phase. In a visit after the survey, 37 patients (97%) said they found the visit beneficial. All participants reported that the one-time consultation helped as they transitioned away from treatment.

“A multidisciplinary, patient-centered approach to breast cancer survivorship allowed us to develop comprehensive clinical and educational service models to benefit patients and their cancer/non-cancer providers,” Bantug and colleagues concluded. “This program aims to enhance education, overcome the fragmentation of the health care system, and improve overall health and wellness of breast cancer survivors as they transition to long-term survivorship.”

For more information:

Bantug ET. Abstract #61. Presented at: 2012 Breast Cancer Symposium; Sept. 13-15, 2012; San Francisco.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

    Perspective

    The Johns Hopkins program is just one working model. There are many survivorship programs across the United States and Europe. The question is how to effectively educate cancer survivors at the end of their treatment? What did they receive? What do we watch for? How do we make sure that they are being followed properly? It is not a one-goal project. The Hopkins model is very creative, and it is an example of an effective program.

    For those of us who have a lot of survivors in our practice, we know the area of research in terms of what is the most effective way to treat these patients is a work in progress. I do not think there is a best model. The program needs to be tailored toward the type of practice, hospital, onsite resources, etc. There is a real need to work in this area because these survivors have multiple needs. Many survivors have fear and anxiety. Now that they are not going to the doctor every week for treatment, how are they going to be taken care of and watched over? The primary oncologist still has a role in their lives, but primary care physicians need to be brought on board, and how best to do that is still an area of controversy. This particular presentation was chosen as one of the working models in this country. What we have to do is look at the process, find quality measures and come up with some national guidelines to make sure the patient has a plan.

    • Kathy S. Albain, MD
    • Professor of medicine Department of hematology/oncology Loyola University Health System

    Disclosures: Albain reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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