Dr Joseph Alvarnas Considers Survivorship and Long-Term Effects of Cancer Therapy

With new treatments helping patients with cancer to live longer, healthcare providers now have new issues of long-term survivorship to consider, said Joseph Alvarnas, MD, the editor-in-chief of Evidence-Based Oncology.
Published Online: October 09, 2015


With new treatments helping patients with cancer to live longer, healthcare providers now have new issues of long-term survivorship to consider, said Joseph Alvarnas, MD, the editor-in-chief of Evidence-Based Oncology.

Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
With innovations making cancer a chronic illness for many patients, how does that change cancer care?
Back when I was a hematology fellow, median survival for patients with multiple myeloma was about 3 years. So many of our patients, half of our patients, died in less than 3 years. So we didn't have issues of long-term survivorship. We didn't have issues of long-term considerations of the consequences of therapy, or the consequences of life-changing therapy-related complications, and now we do.

So I think it's up to us as physicians and care providers to really carefully think through this idea of survivorship. When we take patients, even those who have been cured of their illness, many of them will still complain of fatigue, changes in concentration, changes in their ability to engage in day-to-day activities.

And I think, globally, as we look at the successes of cancer, we shouldn't look at that as a stopping point. That, instead, is a starting point, and looking at this idea of survivorship and how best to tailor the resources of healthcare toward ensuring a good quality of life for all those who have survived a potentially life-threatening illness.

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