According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the number of cancer survivors in the United States is expected to grow to more than 21 million in the next 10 years.
As death rates for all combined cancers continue to decline, a recent NCI report credits survivorship care with helping improve health outcomes and quality of life for younger adults who have had cancer.
To better serve survivors who are transitioning to wellness, Wake Forest Baptist Health has opened the first cancer survivorship clinic in the area, located within Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – the only NCI-designated Cancer Center in the region.
Patients of the clinic receive regular physical exams, monitoring for new or returning cancers, management of side effects, lifestyle coaching, access to survivorship research studies and information on community resources.
“This clinic is a vital part of our commitment to our patients, families, caregivers and loved ones who share the cancer journey,” said Stacy Wentworth, M.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology at Wake Forest Baptist and director of the cancer survivorship clinic. “Many survivors face physical and emotional issues after treatment that require long-term, follow-up care. Our dedicated survivorship team is by their side, supporting them every step of the way.”
In addition to addressing the medical needs of survivors, support for quality-of-life issues such as anxiety, depression, body image, relationships and returning to work is provided. Survivors are also able to share personal stories and develop supportive relationships with others who have gone through similar experiences.
Patients are referred to the survivorship clinic by their surgeon or oncologist and visits are covered by most insurance plans.
“This clinic is really an innovative model that enhances the care that survivors receive after they finish treatment,” Wentworth said.