Survivorship research: informing life and care after cancer


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Julia Rowland
Office of Cancer Survivorship, National Cancer Institute, NIH/DHHS, Maryland, USA

Abstract

As we race into the new millennium, increasing attention is being given to the emerging field of cancer survivorship. A number of factors are driving this interest.  Arguably, the most compelling of these is the growing population of individuals living with a history of cancer. Currently estimated as numbering almost 25 million globally, today’s cancer survivors are a testament to the many successes achieved in our ability to cure and control the complex set of diseases called cancer. At the same time, these individuals represent a challenge to the clinical and research communities to look beyond the search for a cure and provide hope for a valued future for those living with, through and beyond cancer.

In response to this challenge, scientists and clinicians are rapidly developing ever more sophisticated ways to evaluate and describe the consequences of long-term survival. As this science matures, survivorship research is revealing that few cancer therapies are benign, and many have significant chronic or late occurring toxicities. All aspects of a survivor’s life and function may be affected: physical, psychological, social, economic, existential or spiritual. This information is helping to inform the design and delivery of interventions that prevent or mitigate cancer’s adverse effects on survivors’ health outcomes.

As we race into the new millennium, increasing attention is being given to the emerging field of cancer survivorship. A number of factors are driving this interest.  Arguably, the most compelling of these is the growing population of individuals living with a history of cancer. Currently estimated as numbering almost 25 million globally, today’s cancer survivors are a testament to the many successes achieved in our ability to cure and control the complex set of diseases called cancer. At the same time, these individuals represent a challenge to the clinical and research communities to look beyond the search for a cure and provide hope for a valued future for those living with, through and beyond cancer.

In response to this challenge, scientists and clinicians are rapidly developing ever more sophisticated ways to evaluate and describe the consequences of long-term survival. As this science matures, survivorship research is revealing that few cancer therapies are benign, and many have significant chronic or late occurring toxicities. All aspects of a survivor’s life and function may be affected: physical, psychological, social, economic, existential or spiritual. This information is helping to inform the design and delivery of interventions that prevent or mitigate cancer’s adverse effects on survivors’ health outcomes.