MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper is dedicated to helping survivors live their lives after cancer to the fullest. The transition to survivorship care is a positive step that focuses on wellness, quality of life, and health promotion.
The Survivorship Program addresses the physical, psychological, and educational needs of patients who have completed treatment. It focuses on identifying, preventing, and controlling any long-term and late effects associated with cancer and its treatment. The program is also designed to monitor you for signs of cancer recurrence.
The goal is to help our patients live long, happy and fulfilling lives.
The Growing Need for a Cancer Survivorship Program
A study by the American Cancer Society, in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, shows that there are almost 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States today. That number will grow to almost 20 million by 2026. This study also confirmed a growing awareness that long-term cancer survivors have specific medical, psychological and social needs, and require specialized health services to address these concerns.
At MD Anderson Cooper, we believe that providing health care services for cancer survivors is an essential component of our comprehensive cancer program. Through our Survivorship Program we guide you through two phases of survivorship: the end of active treatment, or the Living Through Cancer phase; and long-term survivorship, or the Living Beyond Cancer phase.
Living Through Cancer
A major step in each patient’s cancer journey is reaching the end of active cancer treatment. At this point you may still be receiving maintenance treatment or be finished with treatment but undergoing close monitoring.
This can be a time of mixed emotions for many patients. Some patients are excited about a return to “normal” life — fewer doctors’ visits and perhaps a return to the roles and activities they had to leave behind during treatment.
But this can also be a difficult time for many individuals who are recovering from the side effects of treatment, and coping with anxiety and the fear of cancer recurrence. We understand both perspectives and have a special program designed to help you move forward, healthy and confident, into the future.
As part of your transition into this new phase of care, you will be scheduled for an End of Active Treatment appointment. This appointment with our Survivorship Care Team will include a:
- Short visit with an oncology nurse practitioner.
- Written, detailed summary of the patient’s cancer treatment for your personal medical records.
- Survivorship Care Plan — a personalized plan to help you stay on track for follow-up appointments, cancer screenings, and any imaging and laboratory work you may need.
Living Beyond Cancer
When do I transition to the Survivorship Clinic?
Your doctors and nurses determine when you are ready to transition to the Survivorship Clinic. This decision may be based on your particular type of cancer and your recovery after treatment.
Who is on the Survivorship Care Team?
At MD Anderson Cooper, care at the Survivorship Clinic is provided by nurse practitioners who are specialists in the care of cancer survivors. Survivorship Clinic visits take place in the same area where the doctors and nurses who treated you are working, so they are easily accessible when their input is needed.
What happens at Survivorship Clinic appointments?
Survivorship Clinic appointments typically include:
- Review of recent medical history and a physical examination.
- Assessment to detect recurrence of cancer.
- Health promotion recommendations related to diet, exercise and smoking cessation.
- Identification and management of any long-term or latent side effects of cancer and its treatment.
- Cancer screening referrals.
- Consultation with your MD Anderson Cooper physician as needed.
- Time with our nutrition, social work and behavioral medicine experts to address any dietary, social and psychological/emotional issues as needed.
- Referral to other medical specialists as needed (pulmonary, cardiology, dermatology, etc.).
We typically see our Survivorship Clinic patients every six to 12 months, though this varies based on the type of cancer therapy you received and other individual health risks patients may have.
Many patients require specialty services beyond the cancer care team. We work closely with our Cooper University Health Care colleagues in cardiology, pulmonary medicine, dermatology, orthopaedics, and rehabilitation, radiology and surgery to ensure you have access to a full range of medical services to meet your specific needs.
In addition to using the latest findings to guide the care provided to cancer survivors, the Survivorship Care Team is dedicated to conducting research to learn more about the long-term and late effects of cancer treatment and to improve the quality of life for survivors.
Clinical trials are research studies involving patient volunteers that are conducted to find safe and effective treatments for a variety of health conditions.
MD Anderson Cooper is honored to be a Main Member of NRG Oncology, a research group that is part of the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network.
Our cancer research trials are designed to test new ways to:
- Treat cancer.
- Find and diagnose cancer.
- Prevent cancer.
- Manage symptoms of cancer or side effects from its treatment.
- Improve the quality of life for survivors and address behavioral medicine issues.
Participating in clinical trials offers patients the opportunity to try new and effective treatments that could potentially improve their condition while taking part in vital research that can benefit many future patients. Trials are available for all stages of cancer.
Eligible survivors may be invited to participate in research projects. As part of these efforts, all patients entering survivorship care are asked to complete a series of questionnaires about their physical, emotional and medical experiences. This information helps us guide your survivorship care.
MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper provides cancer survivors with resources such as printed materials, links to helpful websites and community programs and services to help them stay involved, educated and empowered to live long, happy, healthy lives.
For more information on the Cancer Survivorship Clinic at MD Anderson Cooper, please call 855.MDA.COOPER (855.632.2667).