Health After Cancer
Stanford Primary Care Doctor Establishes Clinic for Cancer Survivors
Special Training Helps Dr. Kim Understand the Needs of Cancer Patients When They Transition from the Oncology Team to Primary Care
Collaboration is Key
Quality survivorship care requires a strong collaboration between the oncology health team and primary care clinicians. Cancer survivors have described the anxiety caused by not knowing who to call when a new problem arises after finishing cancer treatment, and by not having a clearly defined roadmap for future check-ups and tests. Some have vividly described feeling they are ‘in limbo’ and this contributes to feeling anxious and unsettled.
A Survivorship Clinic Embedded in Primary Care Practice
Responding to the need to improve the transition from oncology to primary care, Stanford developed a cancer survivorship clinic embedded in a primary care setting. Dr. Jennifer Kim, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, is a primary care physician who established Stanford’s Primary Care Cancer Survivorship Clinic.
Dr. Kim devotes one day per week to see patients with a wide variety of cancer diagnoses and stages. Some patients have recently completed active cancer treatment, while others are many years past treatment or are living with metastatic disease. Visits focus on how cancer and cancer treatment impact health, both physically and emotionally, in survivors now and moving forward. By engaging survivorship issues such as long-term and late effects of treatment, psychosocial wellness, individualized preventive care, and other chronic disease management, Dr. Kim models care of the whole person. Dr. Kim helps survivors navigate the transition back to primary care-led healthcare and improve self-advocacy and efficacy.
As of May 2021, Dr. Kim has seen over 150 patients with overwhelming feedback that visits are helpful and would be recommended to all cancer survivors. Patients describe feeling more confident in their survivorship care after their visits and are grateful for in-depth discussions about many survivorship issues. Currently, Dr. Kim sees patients for up to several visits to provide a comprehensive survivorship discussion and plan, then helps patients continue ongoing care with their own primary care doctor.
In November 2021, the Stanford Primary Care Cancer Survivorship Clinic is welcoming a new full-time provider, Dr. Ilana Yurkiewicz. Dr. Yurkiewicz is oncology-trained and will be accepting patients into her primary care panel. Dr. Vineeta Agarwala is also an oncology-trained survivorship provider at the clinic who sees patients one day a week in a consultative model like Dr. Kim.
If you had cancer treatment at Stanford, ask your doctor for a referral or call 650-498-9000 to schedule a visit with the Primary Care Cancer Survivorship clinic.
Sharing Findings and Planning for the Future
Dr. Kim and the Stanford team (Dr. Schapira in Medical Oncology and Dr. Winget in Population Sciences) shared their findings with colleagues at a national research meeting in November 2018 (ASCO’s Palliative Care Symposium held November 16-17 in San Diego, CA). Dr. Kim is enthusiastic about discussing her findings with colleagues and has started teaching medical students and junior doctors about the special needs of cancer survivors.
For their part, cancer survivors are open to and interested in attending a survivorship clinic that is embedded in a primary care program and eager to collaborate with researchers to identify the elements required for success. Working together, researchers and clinicians hope to learn with and from every patient and use this knowledge to improve the experience and health outcomes for cancer survivors.