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Penn Medicine study shows survivorship care plans empower cancer patients
Date:8/20/2013

PHILADELPHIA In 2005, the Institute of Medicine, surveying the outlook for the growing number of American cancer survivors, first described the idea of a survivorship care plan: a roadmap for the group of patients, today numbering nearly 12 million, who are beginning new lives as cancer survivors.

Care plans aims to arm cancer survivors with a customized road map for their lives as cancer survivors: tips for follow-up screenings, information about possible late effects of their therapies, and pointers on fertility or financial issues they may face in the future. The plans also seek to enhance communication between health care providers and cancer survivors, many of who return to care from internal medicine physicians after finishing their treatment. The concept is now recognized as a key part of ensuring the continued health of cancer survivors: Beginning in 2015, the Commission on Cancer will require cancer centers seeking accreditation to provide care plans to patients once they complete their treatment.

Now, a group of Penn Medicine researchers have published the first study to assess the effectiveness of care plans at equipping patients to meet these goals. In a study published online in the journal Cancer this month, the team details their findings about the effects of use the most widely used care plan tool the online, Penn-developed LIVESTRONG Care Plan -- on patients' health care knowledge and communication, lifestyle behaviors, and emotions. More than 29,000 patients and health care providers have used this personalized tool since it launched on Penn Medicine's OncoLink in 2007.

Despite the close watch from health care providers cancer patients receive during their treatment, it's often not clear who an oncologist, a primary care physician, or another type of specialty physician is responsible for mechanizing the disparate aspects of a survivor's health, from
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5659
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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