A recent episode of Take Care, a health care-focused radio show produced by NPR affiliate WRVO, featured an interview with Dr. Patricia Ganz, a medical oncologist and director of the UCLA LIVESTRONG Cancer Survivorship Center of Excellence. In the interview, Dr. Ganz describes a number of issues that can plague cancer survivors after active treatment has ended, including fatigue, depression, chemo brain, sexual dysfunction, and guilt. Dr. Ganz advocates for survivorship care plans — including the Journey Forward program and the LIVESTRONG Care Plan – to help address barriers to transitioning from the cancer care system to primary care.
Dr. Ganz highlighted that more than 14 million cancer survivors currently live in the United States and every year, 1,600,000 are newly diagnosed. With improved therapies and treatments, more and more people are surviving a cancer diagnosis. Every day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 and enter our Medicare system, a population that represents nearly 60% of new cancer diagnosis. The U.S. health care system must prepare for this increase, and cancer survivorship care plans help equip survivors and their health care providers with the important and necessary information to transition and journey forward into survivorship as best as they are able through surveillance and follow up care with their primary care providers.
Dr. Ganz also describes her experiences as a leader and pioneer in the cancer survivorship movement. In 1986, Dr. Ganz was a founding member of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and helped establish the widely accepted definition of cancer survivorship as someone living with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the balance of life.