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National Cancer Institute

Introduction: Why Follow-up Care Is Important

Noreen Aziz, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.
Senior Program Director
Office of Cancer Survivorship
National Cancer Institute
Bethesda, MD

  • In the United States, there are more than 10 million cancer survivors; worldwide, there are approximately 20 to 24 million. This population is complex, comprising people of various ages who have survived various cancers for various numbers of years. Although new therapies have improved survival, they carry with them substantial adverse effects that may have long-term impacts on health. The goal of survivorship research, therefore, is to reduce the impact of these adverse effects and optimize patients' outcomes and quality of life.
  • A growing body of evidence points to a need for guidelines for follow-up care for survivors. Cancer treatment has a number of sequelae—physiological, psychological, and economic—and all should be addressed. The impact of these issues on survivors' lives becomes more pronounced and complicated as time from diagnosis passes.
  • Questions to address in survivorship research include how and by whom cancer survivors should be monitored; how to prepare survivors for life after cancer; how to increase scientific knowledge of adverse affects of cancer treatment; and what can be accomplished through research that addresses follow-up care

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