Survivorship Care Planning Program Benefits Survivors of All Types of Cancer
INDIANAPOLIS, LOS ANGELES, SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, WASHINGTON, D.C.: Cancer patients and doctors are finally getting on the same page about cancer survivorship, thanks to a free new tool that can benefit anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Journey Forward has released a new computer-based tool that enables anyone diagnosed with any type of cancer to have their medical history, cancer treatment summary and a post-treatment survivorship care plan captured in one place.
Journey Forward, a collaboration among the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), the UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center, Anthem, Inc., and Genentech, provides a computer-based tool that allows survivors and their cancer team to develop a customized Survivorship Care Plan. These plans improve coordination of care for cancer survivors throughout their lives, and they help survivors and their loved ones understand their cancer treatment and follow-up needs. Survivorship Care Plans also put survivors in a better position to advocate for themselves, monitor their health, and participate in decisions about their future care.
“When my cancer treatment plan was set out for me by my oncologist and her medical team, I put my body in their capable and caring hands,” said Debra Becker, a breast cancer survivor. Becker was the first patient to receive a Journey Forward Survivorship Care Plan at the cancer center where she was treated. “After I completed my treatment, I received a Survivorship Care Plan, which charts a course so I can feel like I'm taking charge of my health, my life, again. It's very empowering,” said Becker.
Becker’s oncologist, Dr. Tracey Weisberg, who specializes in breast cancer at the Maine Center for Cancer Medicine, says Journey Forward gets patients to be active in their care because once treatment is over they “can’t wait to make the next step to survivorship.”
“Journey Forward’s Survivorship Care Plan computer tool is simple, and all the information is there,” said Weisberg. “There’s nothing better out there to achieve what is becoming a standard of care that needs to be met.”
Dr. Weisberg started using the Journey Forward tool with a handful of breast cancer patients, and she plans to have 100 percent of her center’s cancer patients using the program by the end of the year.
The Journey Forward program was created in response to recommendations by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which concluded in a November 2005 report on adult cancer survivorship that there is currently no system of coordinated follow-up care for cancer survivors in the United States. The report says many cancer survivors are “lost in transition” from active treatment to survivorship, with few clues about how to manage their follow-up care and the physical and mental health problems that may result from their treatment.
“There is a critical need for cancer patients to be informed and empowered about their care before, during and after cancer treatment,” said Thomas P. Sellers, MPA, President & CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and a 10-year cancer survivor. “Journey Forward helps all parties involved by encouraging an open dialogue between doctors and patients and by providing a customized way to coordinate care.”
“As a member of the IOM committee that prepared the report on cancer survivors, I never realized how challenging it would be to implement survivorship care plans in clinical practice," said Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of the UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center. "The Journey Forward Survivorship Care Plan Builder and its patient materials have made an important contribution to getting this into the hands of health care professionals and survivors to make delivery of survivorship care plans a reality.”
“Journey Forward is an powerful example of how collaboration amongst health benefit plans, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, national patient care coalitions and physicians can address one of the most important areas of medicine—cancer care with a focus on the Journey Forward for individuals with cancer," said Dr. Sam Nussbaum, executive vice president and Chief Medical Officer of Anthem, Inc.. "This online resource can help ensure that each patient receives highly coordinated state-of-the-art cancer care and is informed of and shares in the vital decisions that they and their physicians will make in their Journey Forward.”