The following article features coverage from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Patients with recurrent breast cancer are faced with a unique set of challenges that often go unaddressed by health care providers. A study presented at the ESMO Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, found that implementing a patient-specific survivorship program significantly improved quality of life for this patient population.

Patients with recurrent breast cancer may experience fluctuations in functional status, changes in relationships, difficulty in communicating with loved ones, and existential concerns. The researchers reasoned that, “Oncology nurse navigators have a unique relationship with their patients and implementing [patient-specific survivorship programs] provides an opportunity to address these important and clinically relevant unmet needs.”

In the study, researchers identified the individual needs of survivors by evaluating their responses to the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Breast (FACT-B) survey. Each patient then received an individualized hour-long coaching intervention. Immediately after and 2 weeks post the intervention patients experienced statistically significant improvements in each subscale of the FACT-B survey, indicating an overall improvement in their quality of life.

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The population of chronic breast cancer survivors encompasses a variety of patients, each facing different sets of challenges. The results of this study demonstrate the importance of patient-specific survivorship programs in improving the quality of life of among such a diverse set of patients. “Creation of an infrastructure that promotes individualized care to survivors with recurrent breast cancer is an essential component of providing holistic care across the cancer continuum,” concluded the researchers.


Burbage DL. Implementing a cancer survivorship program for individuals with recurrent breast cancer. Presented at: ESMO Congress 2019; September 27-October 1, 2019; Barcelona, Spain. Abstract 3075.