Surviving Cancer Is Not Enough

Linda Brookes, MSc; Melissa M. Hudson, MD


May 31, 2013

In This Article

Editor's Note: Earlier this year, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO®) issued recommendations to help improve the quality of care for the more than 13 million cancer survivors living in the United States.[1,2] The ASCO statement "Achieving High-Quality Cancer Survivorship Care," published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology,[3] outlined the aspects of cancer survivor care that the society's Cancer Survivorship Committee proposes should be prioritized by healthcare providers, researchers, policy-makers, and patients. The goal of the statement was to promote collaboration between the oncology community and primary care providers (PCPs) and other healthcare professionals.

Melissa M. Hudson, MD, Immediate Past Chair of ASCO's Cancer Survivorship Committee and corresponding author of the statement, spoke with Linda Brookes, MSc, about the implications of the Statement for specialists and general practitioners. Dr. Hudson is director of the Cancer Survivorship Division at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. She is also Co-chair of the Children's Oncology Group Long-term Follow-up Guidelines Core Committee.

Care Doesn't Stop With Cure

Medscape: Since ASCO released its statement, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has issued its first-ever clinical practice guidelines for cancer survivorship.[4,5] Are these 2 publications similar or complementary?

Dr. Hudson: The NCCN guidelines are focused on more specific consequences of cancer and cancer treatment in the post-treatment period. I cannot speak on behalf of ASCO, but there has been interaction between the 2 groups and there is a great deal of consideration about how ASCO can collaborate with other organizations.

Patients are living longer with cancer...We need to optimize the quality of their survival.

Everyone is now moving in the same direction, recognizing that patients are living longer. Historically, and probably appropriately, much of the effort in medical oncology has focused on treating the cancer, confirming that the cancer is responding, and determining whether the cancer is either remaining in remission or refractory to therapy. We now have patients who may be cured of cancer, or living with cancer as a chronic disease, or living with the delayed effects of cancer; in these cases, the focus on the status of the cancer and its response to therapy is no longer appropriate. We need to optimize the quality of their survival.


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