There are over 13.7 million cancer survivors in the US alone, according to the American Cancer Society, with an expectation that number will increase to approximately 18 million by 2022. Many survivors will go into long-term remission, while others may live with cancer as a chronic disease requiring treatment over time. 66% of survivors report that having cancer has not had a significant long-term impact on their lives and many lead normal lives with minimal side effects. Transitioning into “life after cancer” can lead to many unanswered questions and there are several resources to help you navigate the recovery path ahead.
Key points to remember:
- Practice wellness. Understand preventive measures recommended by your healthcare team.
- Keep track of your questions since you may not see your healthcare as often as you did while undergoing treatment.
- Obtain a treatment summary from your oncologist which explains your diagnosis and treatments to help you discuss your cancer experience with a primary care physician and/or a new member of your healthcare team
- Develop a survivorship care plan in collaboration with your oncologist and family doctor, which may include
- Treatment summary
- Follow up appointments and future tests
- Preventive measures
- Potential side effects of cancer treatment and ways to manage
- Methods to manage mental and physical health
Organizations that provide survivorship care plans can be found at
Where can I turn for support in transitioning into life after cancer?
There are many places that you can turn for support as you transition into life after cancer. Support can be professional or non-professional: you can still turn to the family and friends who were there for you during treatment, or you can ask your healthcare team to recommend a social worker or counselor. There are also many in-person and online support groups available where you can connect with other people in your position.
Coping with Cancer: Survivorship – Living With and Beyond Cancer
Life After Treatment
An informative guide to help survivors and caregivers understand the survivorship journey
Information on individualized survivorship care plans to monitor and maintain health and improve quality of live as you move beyond cancer treatment.
Practical, financial and legal information after cancer treatment
Cancer Survivorship: Next Steps for Patients and their Families
How do I transition back into employment, either returning to my old job or starting a new one?
If you had to take time off work or leave your job because of cancer treatments, you probably have a lot of questions. It is important to understand your legal rights as well as how to address your cancer history or any resume gaps in a job interview. For advice on all of these and more, check out Cancer and Careers’ great resources.Cancer and Careers