Cancer Care Seeks to Take Patients Beyond Survival
Source: New York Times.
The development of increasingly successful cancer treatments ranks among the most important of the great medical breakthroughs over the last five or ten years. As more and more patients are surviving cancer though, many of these people are also suffering from the significant side effects of these life-saving treatments – side effects that weren’t noticed or were simply ignored in previous generations of cancer treatment when saving a patient’s life was the only goal in mind. Now that there are over ten million cancer survivors in America, up from the three million in the 1970s, doctors are beginning to treat cancer as any other long-term chronic disease where the actual medical treatment is only one part of a patient’s future prognosis. As quality of life issues have become more important aspects of a patient’s life, a new medical specialty, known as survivorship, has emerged. The Lance Armstrong Foundation, named after the American cyclist who has successfully battled multiple forms of cancer in his life, is financing many of these life after cancer programs at major hospitals around the country.
Mary S. McCabe, director of the survivorship program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, says, “It’s no longer sufficient to say, ‘Well, you survived’…We need to maximize their recovery and quality of life.”