What is a cancer survivorship clinic?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By Jennifer O'Hara

Many institutions that provide cancer care also offer cancer survivorship clinics. These clinics focus on helping people with cancer manage the physical, emotional and social effects of cancer and cancer treatment, as well as improving the overall health and well-being of cancer survivors. 

"Cancer survivorship visits can be very beneficial for the patients," says Meghna Ailawadhi, M.B.B.S., M.D., a Mayo Clinic general internist specializing in cancer survivorship. "They can provide a bridge between your primary care and your oncologist, and help patients sort out the posttreatment journey a little bit easier."

Cancer survivorship clinics may focus on a specific cancer type or a specific age group, such as children, adults, or adolescents and young adults (ages 15 to 39). Many different specialists may be involved, including medical oncologists; rehabilitation specialists; nutritionists; and other specialties, like cardiology and gastroenterology, if needed.

These clinics often help cancer survivors develop a survivorship care plan — a plan tailored to the individual survivor to make sure that person gets the most out of life after a cancer diagnosis. The care plan also can help inform the primary care physicians who care for these patients after active treatment is finished.

"A survivorship care plan entails the details of their treatment, the details of their cancer journey, their pathology reports, and what kind of treatment — radiation, chemotherapy — they have received," explains Dr. Ailawadhi. "And there's also an assessment and a care plan for the future of how often these patients need to have their surveillance scans, what labs to look for, what signs to look for. It also addresses some of their long-term needs if they are suffering from peripheral neuropathy, chronic diarrhea or other posttreatment effects. So it's an extremely useful document both for the patient and for their primary care providers."

Watch this video to hear Dr. Ailawadhi discuss Mayo Clinic’s cancer survivorship clinics, the services they offer, and how to find similar services in your area:

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A version of this article was originally published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.