Transition to Primary Care
As you approach the end of your cancer treatment, you will need to see your oncology team less and your primary care physician more. Ideally, you will have an established relationship with a primary care physician or internist, and as you finish your cancer treatments, that relationship will increase. If not, your oncologist may be able to recommend one for you.
Your oncologist should complete a survivorship care plan for you. This is a written or electronic document to help you and your medical team coordinate future care. There is no set format, but it should list all therapies you received as well as other medical information relevant to your diagnosis and ongoing monitoring and treatment. The plan should include a treatment summary listing information such as:
- Your specific diagnosis
- Tumor characteristics: grade, stage, or hormonal status if applicable
- Treatment specifics: names of medications or chemotherapy, or types of radiation received, dates treatments started and stopped, and toxicities
- Information about surgeries: dates, results, complications
- Any cancer treatment you may still be receiving, such as hormone therapy, and the expected duration
- Potential late side effects
- Support services utilized
- Contact information of your cancer specialists
A survivorship care plan also should list follow-up care guidelines, including recommendations for frequency and timing of physician visits, diagnostic tests and exams—and who is responsible for ordering tests, either the oncologist or the primary care physician. See a model of a survivorship care plan.
Make sure to share this with your primary care physician. If a plan like this is not offered to you, ask for one.
Tell your primary care physician or internist about any ongoing health issues or symptoms, whether or not they relate to your cancer, so that person can help manage those issues. Your primary care physician also can check for other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or bone loss; ensure you receive vaccines such as the flu shot; and recommend other routine cancer screenings like Pap smears or colonoscopies. He or she also can talk about disease prevention steps like eating healthy and controlling your weight.