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Rose Gerber Highlights Importance of Care Coordination for Aging and Survivorship

Care coordination is crucial for mitigating challenges associated with aging and survivorship, explained Rose Gerber, director of patient advocacy and education for the Community Oncology Alliance.

Care coordination is crucial for mitigating challenges associated with aging and survivorship, explained Rose Gerber, director of patient advocacy and education for the Community Oncology Alliance.


How is an aging population adding to the challenges of survivorship?

Using myself as an example, I am very happy to be a 15-year survivor, and that is the greatest benefit of all of participating in the Herceptin clinical trial. I knew all the risks that came with being on that trial, but there were also side effects. Now that I’m also aging, which is a good thing, I’m happy to be aging, there’s other issues that happen to you when you get older. Now, when you’re a cancer survivor, on top of aging, these are challenges for not only the oncologist but for the primary care physicians, as well.

What are some potential efforts that could help mitigate some of these challenges?

I think the care coordination among different physicians. Even though I’m a 15-year survivor, I know one of my personal challenges that impacts other survivors, as well, is knowing that if your knee bothers you, that’s clearly not an oncology issue, but is it? Do you have bone cancer? I think the care coordination between the physicians is really critical because most cancer survivors see a variety of physicians.

I’ve given the example when I’ve done presentations across the country that I’ve had over 15 different specialists taking care of me since the time I was diagnosed, from my cardiologist to endocrinologist to oncologist to surgeons. I think having the care coordination can put the survivor’s mind at ease because you know your doctors are communicating with each other and you’re not getting conflicting guidelines on what you should do about your particular issue. With aging your question is always, “Is this an aging issue?” Is it memory lapse because you’re aging, or is it chemo brain? Will we have chemo brain 15 years later? Some people will say yes, so it’s an interesting concept.

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