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Why Survivorship Plans Are Important for Women with Gynecologic Cancer

Female doctor explaining something to female patient

Lori Smith, MSN, CRNP, is a certified registered nurse practitioner in gynecologic oncology at Penn Medicine. She works with women with cancer and immune therapy clinical trials for ovarian cancer. She is also a co-investigator on many other clinical trials focusing on women’s cancer. Additionally, she leads the Living Well After Cancer™ Program within the Jordan Center for Gynecologic Cancer.

It is important for women who have been treated for a gynecologic cancer to undergo a survivorship visit because the time is completely devoted to addressing your concerns and needs. It is also vital that any other medical providers who participate in your care are aware of your past treatments and current plan of care so that they too can manage your health in a comprehensive manner.

Many women who have been treated for a gynecologic cancer often report significant side effects that they feel affect their quality of life. Those reported side effects include vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, fatigue, lymphedema, urinary and fecal incontinence and pain.

Many women also report psychosocial concerns such as depression, fear/anxiety of their cancer recurring, and concern for family members in cancers with a possible or confirmed genetic mutation.

The Living Well After Cancer™ Program at Penn is a member of the LIVESTRONG TM Survivorship Center of Excellence Network. As part of this network, Penn joins several other LIVESTRONG TM centers nationwide in providing patients and their healthcare providers with the tools necessary to develop a comprehensive cancer survivorship plan.

Penn’s cancer survivorship program offers thorough medical and psychosocial evaluations, follow-up visits, and referrals to other specialists as needed. During this visit, team members discuss any concerns you may have related to your cancer diagnosis and treatment history. A cancer survivorship care plan is developed for you, which includes information about:

  • Potential late effects and symptoms
  • Recommendations for cancer screening (recurrence or new primary)
  • Psychosocial effects (relationships and sexuality)
  • Financial issues (work, insurance and employment)
  • Recommendations for a healthy lifestyle
  • Genetic counseling
  • Effective prevention options
  • Referrals for follow-up care and a list of supportive resources
  • Fertility or reproductive options

Also during this visit, a complete, personalized care plan and treatment history is created using the LIVESTRONG Care Plan tool. This tool can be found on OncoLink.org and can be completed in the office or anyplace you have computer access. The LIVESTRONG Care Plan provides you with a detailed account of your past diagnosis, treatment history and information about your follow-up care, symptoms to watch for and a report to your healthcare provider. It also provides you with helpful tips to stay healthy.

If you were treated for gynecologic cancer at Penn Medicine and would like to make an appointment for a survivorship visit, please call 215-662-3318 or 800-789-7366 (PENN).

Penn's Abramson Cancer Center is a national cancer center in Philadelphia providing comprehensive cancer treatment, clinical trials for cancer and is a cancer research center. The National Cancer Institute has designated the Abramson Cancer Center a Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only 40 such cancer centers in the United States.

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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