Prestigious medical journal The Lancet published a series of papers on the care for cancer survivors this week, with significant contributions from Peter Mac clinician researchers and consumers.
The three papers address many of the issues that cancer survivors commonly experience and how to approach these, discuss improved models of cancer care, and consider specific issues for those who are survivors of cancer in childhood and adolescence.
Improvements in the early detection and treatment of cancer mean a growing number of people are living long-term after their diagnosis.
In the past, patients and doctors have understandably focused their attention on whether the cancer has been cured and follow up has emphasised the detection of possible cancer recurrence. Now however, for many people, cancer should be viewed more as a long term condition.
Many cancer survivors experience health problems long after their treatment has ended, including pain, fatigue, worry about the cancer recurring, and a wide range of physical side-effects related to treatment.
The Lancet papers highlight the need for greater involvement of non-oncologists in the care of cancer survivors, suggesting new models of multidisciplinary care.
Professor Michael Jefford, medical oncologist and Director of the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre at Peter Mac, co-led the series with Prof Jon Emery (University of Melbourne) and Dr Emily Tonorezos (Office of Cancer Survivorship, (US) National Cancer Institute).
Prof Jefford is senior author on the first paper in the series, and lead author of the second. He explains that while there is a growing focus on the issues that survivors may experience, and shared care models are recommended in some state and national plans, there is still a lot of work to do.
“The goal of these papers is to highlight to clinicians, service managers and policymakers how health care systems should adapt to create high-quality, integrated models of survivorship care.”
“Survivors of cancer should receive follow-up care by a range of clinicians: their oncologist, GP, and other health professionals according to their specific needs such as a psychologist, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.”
Meg Rynderman, cancer survivor and consumer advocate, is a co-author and has shared her own experience in two of the three papers. Meg provides important patient perspective to the papers, as well as invaluable contribution to the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, and Peter Mac more broadly.
Dr Jeremy Lewin, the Medical Director of Peter Mac’s ONTrac adolescent and young adult service, contributed to the third paper, which makes long-term care recommendations for young people who have been treated for cancer.
Other Peter Mac contributors are Dr Karolina Lisy, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Health Services Research and Dr Julia Lai-Kwon, medical oncologist and PhD student, Department of Health Services Research.
The papers were produced in collaboration with colleagues from Australia, the United States, the UK, China, Canada, and Singapore.
Read the series at The Lancet's website here.
**Journalists can email Peter Mac's Communications Team to find out more and speak to the authors.