The price of cancer survivorship



national-cancer-survivors-daySunday, June 7, 2009 is the 22nd Annual National Cancer Survivors Day. It is a health observance held annually every first Sunday of June. It is a symbolic event to demonstrate that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality. To commemorate this day, let us a look at a very important, yet often taken for granted aspect of life after cancer treatment.

When one is faced with a diagnosis of cancer, then the first thing that comes to mind is get rid of it, no matter what it takes. The main objective of doctors as well as patients, is to beat the disease, drive the cancer out with all the means available to man. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy – these are some of the treatments currently used against cancer. Nobody dares to think about life beyond cancer treatment.

But surviving cancer comes with a price. The therapies and treatments come with side effects that can cause other health problems. And in many cases, survivors are not prepared for these. Examples of these postcancer treatment problems (aside from hair loss and nausea) are:

According to Dr. James Metz, a Penn radiation oncologist

“These treatments we give are the gifts that keep on giving. Toxicities can happen months, years, decades after treatments were given.”

There is a need for patients to be informed of the long-term health consequences of life-saving treatments. That’s where OncoLink may be able to help, a computerized survivorship program which can create individualized treatment plans for survivors. The platform was set up by the Abramson Cancer Center of the Pennsylvania Medical Center. Patients can type in information about their cancer and treatments. The program generates a report outlining medical tests they should receive, possible side effects of their treatments, and what they can do to keep cancer at bay.

Onoclink is free and user-friendly. It has recently received financial support from the Lance Armstrong Foundation to create an individualized plan of care for those who survived cancer. The plan is based on recommendations of the Institute of Medicine. The site gives invaluable information to patients and survivors about the health risks of the therapy they had or they are on.

There is life after cancer. Know what to expect.

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Comments

  1. You should be stong enough to overcome side effects after cancer treatment. Your article is very useful for cancer survivors.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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