Survivorship-Care Programs Pick Up Where Cancer Treatment Leaves Off

Thanks in part to improvements in cancer treatment, the number of cancer survivors is steadily increasing. Even after overcoming cancer, however, survivors still face numerous challenges. The cancer may return, so regular monitoring is needed. In addition, cancer treatments can damage organs or impair attention and memory. Cancer also takes an emotional toll; many cancer survivors experience depression or anxiety. Increasingly, hospitals and nonprofit groups are offering survivorship-care programs that provide treatment follow-up plans, physical rehabilitation, and psychological assistance. The Commission on Cancer, which accredits cancer centers in the U.S., will require these centers to provide survivorship-care plans starting in 2015. Moreover, a congressional committee is currently considering a bill that would require Medicare to cover care-planning services for cancer survivors.