Cancer survivorship clinics support patients through recovery

June 07, 2016

Although she’s a cancer survivor, neither word is in Nancy Schlegel’s vocabulary. Instead she considers herself a thriver who conquered her foe.

“I don’t use the word ‘survivor’ and I don’t use the word ‘cancer’,” Schlegel, 77, of Manheim Township, Pennsylvania, said. “It’s not something I focus on and never have, even after I was diagnosed.”

Schlegel refuses to let cancer define her. It’s how she copes with life after cancer, one of many cancer patients who are treated in survivorship clinics at Penn State Cancer Institute.

While cancer survivors may be defined by many as patients who are finished with active treatment, Dr. Niraj Gusani sees it differently.

“Survivorship is defined as the period right from the time of a cancer diagnosis through treatment and beyond,” Gusani, director of the Program for Liver, Pancreas and Foregut Tumors at the Cancer Institute and one of Schlegel’s physicians, said.

The clinics have grown out of necessity because cancer survivors are living longer.

“Historically, people did not survive long after a cancer diagnosis, especially lung cancer,” Dr. Jennifer Toth, director of Interventional Pulmonology, said. “With new technology, new therapeutic agents and also with screenings, people are living longer. We’ve identified that the needs of cancer survivors, in particular, differs from the general population. So survivorship clinics became a very important part of the multidisciplinary whole person care model of cancer care.”

“It’s a good problem to have,” added Gusani, “We have 14 million cancer survivors in this country and it’s expected to increase to 18-20 million in the next few years. People are realizing that this team effort to take care of the survivors at all levels for all their different needs is really crucial to help them have a more functional and optimal existence.”

Read more more about cancer survivorship clinics in this Penn State Medicine article.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 08, 2016