Survivorship Program Enhances Life After Cancer

Cancer death rates are decreasing, which means the number of cancer survivors is increasing. America’s more than 14.5 million cancer survivors and those who have supported them can celebrate this good news on National Cancer Survivors Day, Sunday, June 5. This day also brings awareness to the challenges of cancer survivorship and the need for ongoing care to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

Miami Cancer Institute offers a comprehensive cancer survivorship program that provides medical guidance for a patient’s care well into the future, says Beatriz Currier, M.D., medical director of Cancer Support Services at Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. The program currently is available to breast cancer survivors at the Breast Center at Miami Cancer Institute, and will be offered to all patients when the new Cancer Institute facility opens later this year.

“Patients will be referred into the program as part of their routine care,” Dr. Currier explained. “This program will centralize the survivorship care needs of our patients by bringing together all the specialists to manage the physical and psychological effects associated with cancer treatment.”

A patient’s plan of care will be tailored and customized to the patient to ensure optimal recovery and wellness. A cancer survivor’s initial visit will include a consultation with an oncology nurse practitioner, oncology-certified nutritionist, exercise physiologist and a mental health professional to address all aspects of the survivor’s health needs and lifestyle. The components of the survivorship program are:

Patient Diagnosis and Treatment Information
Patients will receive a comprehensive cancer treatment report (hard-copy and electronic) that summarizes their cancer diagnosis, staging, treatment modalities and follow-up care. “Given the complexity of cancer care, it is difficult for patients to recall everything about their disease and treatment,” Dr. Currier said. “This survivorship report provides patients with important information to share with their primary care providers and other physicians involved in their care.”

Management of Treatment Effects
To enhance the quality of life and reduce symptom burden and long-term and late effects due to cancer treatment, cancer survivors will be systematically screened and treated. Some patients may need rehabilitation or an integrative medicine program that incorporates exercise, acupuncture or massage therapy. Medical services to manage fatigue, memory loss or depression as well as support services will be available to patients. Survivors also can work with a nutritionist, an exercise therapist and mental health provider to develop a wellness plan that can help reduce their risk of cancer recurrence.

“Patients should not be expected to live with long-term effects that negatively impact their daily lives. Many of these issues are treatable,” Dr. Currier said.

Cancer Screening
Screening tests to evaluate for recurrent cancer or new cancer will be scheduled and coordinated in collaboration with the patient’s oncologist. Early detection of cancer leads to improved outcomes for patients.

Education and Wellness
Empowering cancer survivors with knowledge about preventative health behaviors and providing them with the support they need to modify habits and adopt a healthy lifestyle will help reduce their risk of future cancers, Dr. Currier explains.  

“Our multidisciplinary approach to cancer survivorship care will be best-in-class,” said Dr. Currier. “There are very few programs nationally that offer services to address the full spectrum of survivorship.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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