Cancer survivorship care plans (SCPs) are designed to help clinicians and patients coordinate and communicate about post cancer treatment health care needs, providing a record of the care a patient received, their disease characteristics, and follow-up plans that integrate available evidence-based standards of care, including surveillance and monitoring of potential late effects of treatment. Barriers to SCP implementation include competing time demands, cost and a lack of reimbursement, and a paucity of guidelines and systems to streamline the SCP process. To date, oncology nurses frequently piece together survivorship templates and plans with information from systems and records that are not always designed to share information. The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) recently published a new template to help streamline and standardize long-term SCPs for patients who have undergone radiation therapy.
With advances in cancer care, the American Cancer Society (ACS) predicts that 37% of patients with cancer will survive 5 years or longer over the next 10 years. As a result of improved survival rates and the aging of baby boomers into ages of high cancer incidence, the US population of cancer survivors is expected to approach 19 million people by 2024.1
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), ACS, and other bodies have begun to release SCP development tools, including generic and cancer-type-specific guidelines and templates.
However, few such tools specifically detail the survivorship issues and needs of patients who have undergone radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment. This has frequently fallen to oncology nurses to create templates addressing these needs, piecing together information from disparate sources.
But the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) recently published a new SCP template to help streamline and standardize long-term care planning for radiation therapy patients, to help close this gap and facilitate completion of SCPs that summarize patient treatment history and needs for future care.2 The ASTRO template includes information about late effects of radiation exposure, as well as general and contact information on preventive, supportive, financial, and nutrition-counseling services.2