Who Are Cancer Survivors?
The term cancer survivor refers to a person who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis throughout his or her life. The impact of cancer on family members, friends, and caregivers of survivors is also acknowledged as part of survivorship. Cancer survivors often face physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual, and financial challenges as a result of their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Public health professionals identify and address survivorship and quality of life issues such as the coordination of care, patient-provider communication, health promotion, support services, and fertility preservation through research and collaboration with public, non-profit, and private organizations. Public health initiatives created to understand and prevent secondary disease, recurrence, and long-term effects of treatment are essential
How Many People Are Cancer Survivors?
Nearly 14 million Americans with a previous cancer diagnosis are living in the United States. People are living longer after a cancer diagnosis because of advances in early detection and treatment. About two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer are expected to live at least five years after diagnosis, but disparities in health care impact survival. Low-income men and women and members of minority groups who have little or no health insurance coverage are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at later stages, when survival times are shorter.
What We are Doing to Help Cancer Survivors
The Survivorship Task Force formed in 2007 as a subcommittee of the Medical Care Committee, and became a task force after the Medical Care Committee was dissolved. Before the Task Force disbanded in the spring of 2014, they worked on survivorship, palliative care, and end of life issues. The Task Force disbanded in 2014. The task force's accomplishments include developing and making available survivorship and palliative care resources which are available here.
In June 2015, EvergreenHealth Hospital hosted a two day workshop on survivorship care with George Washington University Cancer Institute staff. The resources can be found here. The workshop was highly successful and created a great deal of energy and interest to work on the issues that arose from the workshop. From the workshop a new grop has formed to help advance the cause of survivorship support in healthcare systems; the Washington Cancer Survivorship Alliance.