Unmet health information needs, even nearly a decade after a cancer diagnosis, were a key finding of a study of the needs of cancer survivors who are at least 9 years beyond an initial diagnosis.1
“This group is especially interested in receiving information on cancer screening, the long-term side effects of cancer and treatment, and how to live a healthy lifestyle (eg, diet and physical activity). We found that information needs may differ depending on a person’s age, race/ethnicity, education level, type of cancer, and even how they rate their own health,” said authors Mary Playdon, Tara Sanft, MD, and Brenda Cartmel, PhD, in a question and answer session; all are affiliated with Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
They explained that a Survivorship Care Plan (SCP) covers all of the information needs they identified in this group. An SCP is a document provided to patients after completing cancer treatment. It summarizes their treatment and describes its long-term effects. It also describes screening for cancer recurrence or second cancers, advice on healthy living, and support in the community.
However, SCPs were not common practice a decade ago, and so most of the study’s participants did not receive them.
The researchers found that health care providers need to recognize that, even years later, cancer survivors may still need health information related to their cancer. A lot of this information can be provided through the current format of the SCP. Furthermore, print is currently the preferred format; however, the study population was an older generation of cancer survivors who are now approximately 65 to 70 years.
1. Playdon M, Ferrucci LM, McCorkle R, et al. Health information needs and preferences in relation to survivorship care plans of long-term cancer survivors in the American Cancer Society’s Study of Cancer Survivors-I [published online ahead of print January 7, 2016]. J Cancer Surviv. doi:10.1007/s11764-015-0513-4.