National Priorities in Cancer Survivorship
Presentation 1: President’s Cancer Panel 2003 Annual Report
Living Beyond Cancer: Finding a New Balance
LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery
Howard University Hospital Washington, DC
Chairman, President’s Cancer Panel
- The President’s Cancer Panel 2003 Annual Report described issues affecting cancer survivors of all ages, and grouped them into problems specific to survivors diagnosed as children (birth to 14 years), adolescents and young adults (15-29 years), adults (30-59 years), and older adults (older than 60 years).
- For children living with cancer, classroom re-entry after treatment is a major issue. The National Cancer Institute and the Department of Education should collaborate to help educators and patients’ parents to better understand survivor needs and their own roles in helping children with cancer return to school.
- Adolescents and young adult cancer patients are referred to as the “lost cohort.” They are treated by pediatric oncologists, but may then “age out” of pediatrics and be treated by medical oncologists who are not familiar with pediatric oncology issues. Better data on treatment and survival of these patients should be collected without violating Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.
- Adolescent and young adult cancer patients also should receive information about options for preserving fertility and on the effects of treatment on pregnancy or offspring before treatment begins.
- Cancer survivors who were diagnosed during adulthood often are caring for their parents, as well as for their own children. Clinicians and research organizations should develop recommendations to guide post-treatment care of these survivors, with a special emphasis on access to support groups.
- Sixty percent of cancers and 75 percent of cancer deaths occur in persons 65 years of age and older, and these patients often have other health conditions that can worsen the course of the disease. Access to care and support services can be complicated due to changes in health insurance and Medicare coverage.
- For older cancer survivors, ensuring that their caregivers have access to necessary healthcare and support is important.