Sunday, June 14, 2009

Online Care for Cancer Survivors

The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) and Penn Medicine just announced that they have formed a four year partnership to develop and disseminate the LIVESTRONG Care Plan to be powered by Penn Medicine’s OncolLink. Originally launched as OncolLife on Penn Medicine’s OncolLink website in 2007, this tool is the only one of its kind created and updated continuously by a team of cancer physicians and nurses.

“There are currently 12 million cancer survivors in the U.S. and 28 million worldwide,” said Doug Ulman, President and CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. “The lack of post-cancer medical care leaves a staggering number of people without support.”

The LIVESTRONG Care Plan is taking steps to develop a basic plan that survivors can review and discuss with their healthcare team. The plan will give the oncology team details on a cancer survivor’s therapy such as the type of cancer, where the patient received radiation therapy, facts and details on chemotherapy, and details if the patient underwent surgery as part of the treatment.

The Institute of Medicine researched the state-of-care for cancer survivors and found that there was little guidance that may arise after treatment available for survivors and their healthcare providers. Now cancer survivors, their families, and physicians will be able to create an individualized plan of care using up-to-date treatment information. Also the site will provide education on the options available once the patient is out of treatment.

Specifically, the Institute of Medicine suggests that once a person has completed cancer therapy, they should be able to find information on the potential late effects of treatment, recommendations for cancer screening, psychosocial effects on relationships, recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, genetic counseling, effective prevention options, and a list of resources.

The LIVESTRONG Care Plan program is designed only for survivors of adult cancers. Childhood cancer survivors are not included in the plan since the late effects of their treatment during childhood development have been studied in greater detail and much more is known.