Life After Cancer: What Is a Cancer Survivorship Care Plan?

A survivorship care plan is a personalized document to help you move forward after cancer treatment. Many professional medical groups advise that healthcare providers create a survivorship care plan for their cancer patients. The care plan is a personal record of your cancer history and information to help you after cancer treatment. It is something you can share with your current or future healthcare providers. Always keep a copy for your own records.

What are the goals of a survivorship care plan?

The goals of a survivorship care plan include things such as:        

  • Moving your routine care back to your primary care provider so you can get blood pressure screening, depression screening, flu shots, and other care.

  • Ensuring that you are in regular contact with your healthcare providers as needed

  • Making sure you are treated for physical and emotional side effects

  • Checking for a second cancer or recurring cancer

  • Helping you make healthy lifestyle changes so you can manage or prevent problems

  • Helping reduce your risk of needing emergency room care or a hospital stay

  • Giving you resources for support after cancer treatment

Do I need a survivorship care plan?

Survivorship care plans are not required. But they may help people adjust to life after cancer treatment. A survivorship care plan can help you compile all the information about your cancer and treatment for future reference. It’s a record you can share with other healthcare providers who take care of you. It can help you know what to do to stay healthy after treatment. And it can tell you how to watch for future problems. It can also give you information on how to stay healthy and manage things such as emotional and financial issues.

What’s in a survivorship care plan?

A survivorship care plan has a lot of information in it. It’s a record of your cancer care, and a map to help you in the weeks, months, and years ahead. The plan should outline the kinds of care you may need after treatment, who will be providing that care, and how these providers can work together to help you. 

  • A care plan will have information about your cancer and treatment, including:Cancer type, stage, grade, and markers

  • Diagnostic tests and their results

  • Types of treatment

  • Dates and places of treatment

  • Types of medicine and doses

  • Side effects you had from each treatment

  • Additional care you had, such as seeing a nutritionist or counselor

  • Contact information for your cancer treatment providers  

It will also note things you need to know going forward, such as:

  • Long-term and late treatment effects you may have, such as heart or lung problems or fertility issues

  • Any ongoing treatment you will need, such as long-term medicines you will need

  • Information about your risk for recurring cancer or a second cancer

  • What follow-up tests you will need and when to have them

  • List of symptoms or problems for which you should call your healthcare team

  • Referral for counseling, support groups, and other types of emotional support

  • Contact information for all of your follow-up healthcare providers

  • Whether you or family members may have genetic risk factors for cancer 

It may give advice to keep you be healthy and help prevent the return of your cancer, such as: 

  • Eating a healthy diet

  • Getting exercise

  • Keeping a healthy weight

  • Not smoking

  • Not drinking alcohol

  • Using sunscreen 

And it may give you information to help you with issues such as: 

  • Health insurance problems

  • Job concerns related to health and cancer

  • Financial assistance

  • Life insurance issues 

Talking with your healthcare team 

Ask your healthcare team members if they can put together a survivorship care plan for you. Not all cancer healthcare teams do their own survivorship care plans. You can also put your own together. Talk with your healthcare team and ask for information as noted above.