Alec Stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

Cancer prevention is a full-time job, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works around the clock to raise awareness and promote necessary early detection and screening methods. Cancer survivors are a unique subset of patients and require information that’s been individualized to the survivorship experience.

For National Cancer Survivorship Month in June 2018, CDC launched its new Cancer Survivors resource area. It provides helpful information to all impacted by cancer, including current survivors, family members and caregivers, current patients, and healthcare professionals.

Through social media posts, news stories, personal anecdotes, and facts and figures, CDC is sharing valuable information to highlight prevention resources and cancer treatment complexities for current and future patients, as well as those living beyond their diagnoses. As part of those efforts, CDC offered information for staying healthy during and after cancer treatment, along with an outline for survivorship care plans. As more in oncology are recognizing that various levels of survivorship depend on treatment progress and potential outcomes, CDC’s resource area can support patients and providers alike.

Survivors Face Unique Challenges

Efforts and advancements in early detection, prevention, and treatments mean that Americans are living well beyond their initial cancer diagnoses. Survivors have unique needs, and healthcare professionals and agencies alike must address issues in this growing population. After completing treatment, many survivors can encounter ongoing or late effects associated with their past treatment.

According to the CDC website, cancer survivors have a greater risk than the general population for cancer, especially for recurrence or developing secondary cancers. Some of the risks are associated with the following:

  • Effects of treatment
  • Unhealthy behaviors
  • Underlying genetics
  • Risk factors that contributed to the first cancer

Oncology nurses are in a key position to provide education, resources, and guidance for their patients as they face challenges in cancer survivorship.