Survivorship

Primary Care

Frequently Asked Questions 

BY PATRICIA READ-WILLIAMS, MD, CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON SCHOOL OF MEDICINE NEIGHBORHOOD CLINIC, ISSAQUAH CLINIC 

Surprisingly, your primary care provider (PCP) may not know everything about your cancer. 

There are now 12 million cancer survivors past their fifth year of survivorship.  For many of these survivors,  PCPs provide ongoing medical care.  While the chance of recurrence varies by type of cancer, knowing what to monitor is crucial for early detection and treatment of a recurrence. 

You can help your PCP make sure that you get the best care possible by providing  a tool from the Survivorship Program clinic at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  That tool is the Survivorship Care Plan.

Advances in cancer treatment are being discovered almost daily, making  it hard for PCPs to keep up with the latest in detection and treatment options.  This is where the Survivorship Care Plan comes in.

The Survivorship Care Plan is the bridge between oncology  and  primary care. Here's how it works:  prior to your survivorship clinic appointment, you will be asked to complete an extensive survey. That survey, along with your oncology records,  is used as the basis for a careful examination.  After the exam, a Survivorship Care Plan is put together specifically for you. 

The plan includes your type and grade of tumor as well as details of the treatments you received, including chemotherapy and radiation.  It lists the long-term effects from those treatments and effects of your cancer that will need to be monitored. 

Unfortunately, the effects of the cancer can be subtle and pervasive.  The Survivorship Care Plan may detail other services such as dietetics, psychology, lymphedema treatment, family counseling, pain management and others.  Your input and ideas in the development of the plan are crucial.

Once the Survivorship Care Plan has been developed it is sent to your PCP and a copy is given to you. Once you receive the plan, you and your PCP should go over it in detail and discuss the treatment options, as well as the things that will need to be monitored. 

By using the Survivorship Care Plan, your and your PCP will have the best information to give you the individualized and necessary follow-up that you need. And the best information can make all the difference.

For more information about the Survivorship Program clinic, or to arrange an appointment for yourself, a friend or family member, call 1-866-543-4272, email us at survivor@fhcrc.org or visit our Web site at www.fhcrc.org/survivorship.

Frequently Asked Questions  

Q: What’s commonly missed in cancer survivors’ health care?

The long-term health needs of survivors are as unique as their cancer treatments. A survivorship care plan provides a checklist for special concerns and general health maintenance issues, so nothing falls through the cracks. Common concerns include:

  • Different chemotherapies and radiation doses necessitate specific screenings for late effects. Many of these screening tests are needed earlier or more often than in the general population.
  • Monitoring of increased risks, such as cardiac problems due to cancer therapies or skin cancer in an area that received radiation.
  • A focus on screening for cancer recurrence sometimes means other routine tests, like mammograms and colonoscopies, are forgotten.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.