Health After Cancer
Stanford Primary Care Doctor Establishes Clinic for Cancer Survivors
Meeting the Needs of Cancer Patients As They Transition from Oncology to Primary Care
Collaboration is Key
Quality survivorship care requires a strong collaboration between the oncology health team and primary care clinicians and other specialists. 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 lost in transition.
A Primary Care Based Survivorship Clinic
To improve the transition from oncology to primary care, Stanford developed a cancer survivorship clinic embedded in a primary care setting. Dr. Jennifer Kim, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, is a primary care physician who established Stanford’s Primary Care Cancer Survivorship Clinic. Together with Dr. Ilana Yurkiewicz, a fellowship-trained oncologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine who pivoted into a primary care survivorship role, they have built a comprehensive program to increase access for patients in need of highly specialized survivorship care.
Drs. Kim and Yurkiewicz see patients with a wide variety of cancer diagnoses. 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, this clinic models care of the whole person. Drs. Kim and Yurkiewicz help survivors navigate the transition back to primary care-led healthcare and improve self-advocacy and efficacy.
As of March 2022, the Stanford Primary Care Cancer Survivorship Clinic has seen over 275 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, the clinic provides up to several survivorship consultative visits, as well as ongoing primary care.
Dr. Vineeta Agarwala is also an oncology-trained physician dedicated to providing integrated cancer survivorship care. She currently sees patients in the clinic for consultative visits.
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
Drs. Kim and Yurkiewicz, in conjunction with Dr. Lidia Schapira in Medical Oncology, have widely contributed to the cancer survivorship literature and education. The Essentials of Cancer Survivorship textbook, published in 2021, covers key survivorship information and is directed toward generalist providers. The Health After Cancer Continuing Medical Education (CME) online module is a case-based series that highlights practical tips and didactics for providers to enhance survivorship care in their own practices. Peer-reviewed journal articles as well as regional and national posters and presentations have highlighted recent findings in survivorship care delivery and education. The clinic creates educational resources and talks for trainees and welcomes fellows, residents, and medical students to participate in patient care and learn more about this expanding field.
Together, clinicians, patients, and researchers are learning from one another and empowering others to use survivorship knowledge to improve the experiences and health outcomes for cancer survivors.