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Vital Signs

Fall 2006

Follow-up Care Key for Cancer Survivors

Cancer treatments can be complex, often delivered over prolonged periods to achieve a cure or long-term remission. Once people survive cancer, few mechanisms exist to monitor what happens to them after treatment.

But many cancer survivors grapple with serious physical and emotional problems-including fatigue, sexual dysfunction or depression-and need help.
UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center is now a LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence and joins five leading centers nationwide to address the needs of the more than 10 million cancer survivors living in the United States today. The UCLA survivorship center is funded by a grant from the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The grant allows UCLA to organize its existing survivorship programs and marry leading-edge research with new clinical programs that will coordinate follow-up care for adult and childhood cancer survivors, says Patricia Ganz, M.D., UCLA oncologist and director of the new center. "Vital issues need to be addressed that sometimes aren't communicated by survivors to their primary-care physicians. Often times, survivors themselves don't know what kind of follow-up care they need to monitor for disease recurrence or any late effects that may result from their treatment," Dr. Ganz says.

The new program will help survivors navigate the transition from patient to survivor, focusing on physical and emotional needs during recovery, notes Jacqueline Casillas, M.D., UCLA pediatric oncologist, who works with childhood cancer survivors.
Dr. Ganz and her UCLA team are developing community-based programs with affiliated healthcare partners in the Los Angeles region to coordinate post-treatment followup for patients who are disease-free.

An outpatient program for survivors-both UCLA patients and those treated in the community-will provide consultation and follow-up care. Survivors also can participate in innovative survivorship research being conducted at the Jonsson Cancer Center. Such research, Dr. Ganz says, is vital to advance understanding of the late effects of cancer treatment and to improve quality of life. For more information, call UCLA's LIVESTRONG Cancer Survivorship Center at (310) 825-9781 or visit the cancer website at www.cancer.mednet.ucla.edu.

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