WASHINGTON — Most primary care physicians, oncologists, and other advanced medical professionals lack a thorough understanding of long-term effects of cancer treatment, according to a presenter at the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit.
“The literature has demonstrated that there is a lot of provider confusion around the coordination and delivery of survivorship care. They don’t know who is responsible for what parts of follow-up and what to look for when assessing it,” Barbara Tofani, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, administrative director of Hunterdon Healthcare, said. “The problem with [this confusion] is quality of care affects the cost and satisfaction of care.”
There will be 20 million cancer survivors in less than a decade, said making it critical to improve one’s knowledge base in this area.
“Now that these patients are living longer, we realize they have a lot of issues, including those related to their diagnosis and treatment, and all the other issues of the normal aging body and mind.”
She reported on a survey that examined how prevalent the misunderstanding truly is among PCPs to illustrate her point on the disconnect between different components of the medical community.
“Most of them told us ‘I don’t have any idea of what I am looking for in patients who get [various postcancer treatment medications], so if they don’t even know what they are looking for, how can they assess and manage their survivorship? ... Primary care providers also said they had never seen a survivorship care plan,” Tofani said.
To help patients live the best life possible after cancer treatment she developed a model to help PCPs and oncologists work together to the oncologist provides surveillance; the PCP screens for a second primary cancer; then these two medical professionals work together to assess and manage the psychosocial and physical late and long-term effects of cancer treatment, promote wellness and health, and continue to communicate and collaborate to ensure the patient’s well-being.
Steps such as keeping all the patient’s information in one place and developing a pre-visit planner to determine what a patient needs before the patient shows up will ensure better follow-up care, Tofani added. – by Janel Miller and Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS
Tofani, BF and Johansen, M. “Use of clinical practice guidelines to coordinate survivorship care.” Presented at: Association of Community Cancer Centers’ Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit, March 14-16, 2018; Washington.
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center.” https://smhs.gwu.edu/gwci/survivorship/ncsrc. Accessed March 16, 2018.
Disclosure: Tofani reports no relevant financial disclosures.