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Survivorship

Survivorship expands the care given to the patient, including monitoring the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial effects that can last even after medical discharge. Learn more.
Survivorship

What is Survivorship

Anyone who receives a diagnosis of cancer naturally places a priority on surviving the disease. All efforts are focused on fighting cancer and maintaining life.

But, due to the fact that cancer can be a serious disease that often imposes invasive treatments and with potential sequelae in the body and mind, another concept has gained space in recent years: Survivorship.

 

The term refers to programs created in oncology centers that expand the care given to the patient, from diagnosis to post-treatment. It includes monitoring the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial effects that may persist even after medical discharge.

Survivorship – or the survival experience – also includes monitoring the clinical aspects of those who have already had cancer, that is, keeping the exams up to date to identify a possible recurrence of the disease, screening for other cancers and monitoring for effects. late in treatment.

The importance of Survivorship

Survivorship programs provide guidance on a new lifestyle, which includes quality food, physical activity and psychological support for the new reality. They are useful for any type of cancer, but special attention has been given to breast cancer, the second most common in Brazil. The approaches to this disease range from surgery to remove the breast to drug treatments that can cause early menopause and infertility, affecting the mental health and post-cancer future of many women.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity, physical inactivity and smoking are among the preventable factors that can contribute to the emergence of various types of cancer. Research published in the journal Nature and with the collaboration of the Ministry of Health of Brazil reveals that one in ten deaths from breast cancer in Brazil could have been avoided with the practice of regular physical activity.

Good habits that impact the risk of cancer incidence are also reflected in treatment results, which reinforces the importance of Survivorship programs, since they have counseling for a healthier lifestyle as one of their central pillars.

OC sobreVIVER Program

In 2020, Grupo Oncoclínicas started a Survivorship program focused on women with breast cancer, the OC sobreVIVER. The initiative initially includes consultation with an oncologist and a navigator nurse – a professional trained to support the patient at all stages of treatment.

With the refinement of treatments and the improvement in survival rates or indicators, living many years after cancer treatment is already a reality. At the same time, there are long-term effects that demand follow-up and adequate support for the patient.

Holistic care

The proposal of the OC sobreVIVER program, which was inspired by a successful experience at the Dana Faber Cancer Institute, in Boston (USA), is to provide care that goes beyond the organic aspects of the patient and also includes the psychosocial aspects. A holistic view of the life of those who have cancer is sought, taking care of their health, advising on weight loss, helping to combat harmful habits (such as smoking) and, when appropriate, helping to re-enter the job market due to of sequelae that may require a new activity.

The patient’s initial consultation takes place three months after the main cancer treatment – which can be surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. This is when the patient is able to look at other aspects of her life affected by cancer, not just the disease itself.

Once the patient’s demands are identified, a multidisciplinary team that includes a psychologist, physical therapist, geneticist, medical specialists in human reproduction, a sexologist, a nutritionist and specialists in practices such as acupuncture are put into action. The importance of keeping exams up to date, tracking other possible health problems or even cancer, is an important part of monitoring these women.

New Horizons

The OC sobreVIVER program, for the time being, is available for patients with breast cancer in the units of Belo Horizonte (Oncocentro Minas) and Bahia (Núcleo de Oncologia da Bahia – NOB), but the proposal is to expand to other neoplasms and regions.

The choice of breast cancer to start the program was motivated by the fact that it is a disease with a lot of available and consolidated data, including known effects that arise after treatment, and because it has a high incidence in Brazil.

Within the OC sobreVIVER there is another program in progress: Young and Strong, aimed at younger women who face breast cancer and have specific demands specific to their age group.

The intention is to expand the program to other units and also other types of neoplasms. In cases of head and neck cancer, for example, there may be important sequelae that deserve special care

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