By Chelsea Backler, MSN, APRN, AGCNS-BC, AOCNS®

Healthcare providers need to address three priority areas to improve outcomes for cancer survivors and support caregivers for patients with cancer, according to findings from an evidence review published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Cancer survivorship care is evolving with research and policy. Participants in the 2017 National Cancer Policy Forum (NCPF) workshop identified goals to address survivors’ needs and improve outcomes. In response to that work, the current study’s researchers synthesized evidence on survivorship care to develop three immediate, actionable steps to reach the NCPF goals:

  1. Implement routine assessment of survivors’ needs and functioning. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) enable clinicians to identify cancer-related symptoms early and provide timely interventions. Using PROs has been shown to improve quality of life and survival.
  2. Personalize and risk stratify survivorship care needs. This allows for tailored referrals and the appropriate levels of surveillance and targeted interventions. A personalized approach to care should extend beyond treatment into follow-up care and include caregivers.
  3. Implement new care models. Promote health equity by helping survivors and caregivers gain access to necessary care and services. New models include implementing new delivery methods (e.g., telemedicine), changing reimbursement, and partnering with payers.

The authors emphasized that health care must be personalized and targeted, not “one-size-fits-all,” to meet the needs of survivors and their caregivers while reducing disparities in care.