The Stanford Cancer Institute opened a new clinic this week with the intention of providing better care for patients after cancer treatment. The clinic, which will initially to be open only to gynecologic cancer survivors, will focus on assisting patients through issues such as fatigue, anxiety, body image, sexual function and relationships, according to a press release from the Stanford School of Medicine.
“We’ve done a beautiful job of helping rid people of their cancer,” said Kelly Bugos, a nurse practitioner and manager of the Stanford Cancer Survivorship Program, in the press release. “The piece that’s been missing is helping them to return to wellness after treatment. It’s time for us to give people tools to make that transition and extend the treatment safety net a little bit longer.”
David Spiegel, director of Stanford’s Center for Integrative Medicine, said that the clinic will provide both “emotional and medical support” for cancer survivors.
Patients treated at the clinic are expected to be cancer-free or have a high probability of achieving long-term remission. These survivors will be seen by nurse practitioners with which they have already interacted during the treatment process. The nurse practitioners will help patients cope with any of the ongoing physical or psychological pain following treatment and direct them to physicians or support groups if necessary.
“We know that when treatment ends, the cancer experience continues,” Bugos said.
The clinic has been in development for more than a year, and the press release identified LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center for Excellence Network as a source that Stanford utilized during the planning stage. The LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center, which was founded in 2005, provides up to $250,000 per year for five years through a competitive request-for-proposal process to institutions that promise to increase access to and quality of survivorship care. Stanford’s Survivorship Clinic is not listed on the LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center’s website as a sponsored network member.
According to the press release, there are currently more than 12 million Americans that have had cancer, a number that is growing.
“Our health care system is much more geared to acute rather than chronic care, and we haven’t had a good transition back to routine care,” Spiegel said. “People develop significant issues after cancer — the question becomes how to live with this for the rest of your life.”