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Medicine Matters Home Article of the Week Time to Study Metastatic-Cancer Survivorship

Time to Study Metastatic-Cancer Survivorship

ARTICLE: Time to Study Metastatic-Cancer Survivorship

AUTHORS: Terry Langbaum and Thomas J. Smith

JOURNAL: N Engl J Med. 2019 Apr 4;380(14):1300-1302. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1901103.

One of us, Terry, has survived four separate cancer diagnoses over the past 37 years and is now living with a treatment-refractory radiation-induced sarcoma; the other, Tom, is living with a recurrence of prostate cancer and life-threatening side effects of surgery, radiation, and androgen blockade. We know we are not alone: the population of metastatic-cancer survivors like us is growing.

Recent publications on cancer survivorship have highlighted some of the challenges to be faced in the coming decades with the anticipated growth in the number of cancer survivors — predicted to reach 26 million in the United States by 2040 — and the aging of the survivor population. Existing guidelines do an excellent job of documenting the late effects of treatment, both physical and psychological, and in making recommendations for the surveillance, diagnosis, and management of the constellation of symptoms and conditions most often associated with cancer treatment. But such efforts have assumed that the survivor’s cancer is in remission and have generally addressed only the patient issues that begin at the completion of cancer treatment.

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