Improving Survivorship

January 8, 2013
Lisa Schulmeister, RN, MN, APRN-BC, OCN, FAAN

ASCO issues recommendations for improving cancer survivorship care.

On January 7, 2013, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued recommendations for improving survivorship care. An estimated 13 million Americans are cancer survivors and the recommendations were formulated to reduce the chance that these survivors would not receive necessary survivorship care following completion of cancer treatment.

Key practice recommendations include promoting patient-centered coordinated care via shared-care models, increasing the adoption of quality improvement programs, expanding research on long-term care and late effects of cancer treatment, strengthening healthcare provider education on survivorship care, and educating and empowering cancer survivors and their families so that they can be advocates of survivorship care for themselves as well as other cancer survivors. Perhaps the most important of these recommendations is expanding research on cancer survivorship. Research dollars tend to fund studies of cancer treatment so a shift in focus, or additional focus, is needed on survivors’ long-term care needs. We are just beginning to explore what optimal survivor care should encompass.

Policy recommendations include calling upon policymakers to ensure that the needs of cancer survivors remain a priority as the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are implemented. ASCO also is calling on federal lawmakers to include cancer as a chronic disease under these provisions and acknowledge the long-term and multi-faceted health issues facing cancer survivors. Another recommendation is for Medicare reimbursement of cancer survivor-specific services. The lack of coding and reimbursement policies that reflect the range of care services for services remains a major barrier. The full report of the new recommendations is available at http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2013/01/07/JCO.2012.46.6854.