For patients diagnosed with cancer, the term “survivor” has different possible meanings.1
What is survivorship?
Some people consider survivorship to mean that a patient has completed cancer treatment and no longer has any signs of cancer. For other people, survivorship is used more broadly to refer to patients who have been diagnosed with cancer, patients who are being treated for cancer, and patients who are continuing long-term treatment for their cancer. The latter group may include patients who are undergoing active surveillance by their healthcare providers, patients who are having long-term maintenance therapy to attempt to reduce the chance that their cancer will recur (grow back again after treatment), or ongoing treatment to attempt to keep the cancer from progressing.
What is a survivorship care plan?
People who have been diagnosed with cancer often receive a survivorship care plan.2,3 Many patients find this to be a very helpful resource in navigating life after cancer diagnosis and treatment in a healthy, confident way with good quality of life. The healthcare providers on the cancer care team can provide resources and support in developing an individualized survivorship care plan for patients with bladder cancer.
A survivorship care plan is individualized and tailored for each patient and their specific circumstances. There are several different models of survivorship care plans that may be used to help develop a patient’s individual plan, but most of those plans often include the following elements:
- Guidelines about the possible side effects of the patient’s cancer treatments and maintenance therapy (if applicable)
- A recommended schedule for check-ups and follow-ups so healthcare providers can monitor the patient for signs and symptoms that the cancer may have recurred
- A recommended schedule for screening and testing for other types of cancers and health effects of cancer and cancer treatments
- Guidelines for maintaining good health and a healthy lifestyle, such as dietary advice and advice about regular physical activity and exercise
Available resources for bladder cancer survivors
The healthcare providers on the cancer care team can provide resources and support in helping patients with their survivorship and with developing an individualized survivorship care plan for patients with bladder cancer.3 Additionally, there are many resources available online that bladder cancer survivors can use to learn more about survivorship and to work with their cancer care teams in developing their preferred type of survivorship care plan.
The Minnesota Cancer Alliance has developed a survivorship care plan called “What’s Next? Life After Cancer Treatment” that patients can use to record details of their treatments, potential side effects after treatment, and follow-up care, among other details.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology provides a detailed Cancer Survivorship guide, which includes forms that patients can use keep track of many aspects of the cancer, treatment, and follow-up care.
OncoLink offers an online tool to help patients develop a personalized survivorship care plan.
Cancer.net, an online resource provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, provides a list of resources available to support and provide information to cancer survivors.