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Breast Cancer Survivorship: Improving Health and Well-Being After Treatment

Friday, October 21, 2016

Modern medical advancements have improved the outcomes for the treatment and survivorship of breast cancer. But for many survivors, the years after treatment can bring physical and psychological challenges, including managing the side effects of cancer treatment and addressing concerns about the potential recurrence of cancer.

Dr. Oana Danciu

Oana Danciu, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine

“Today, most breast cancer survivors lead long and fulfilling lives,” says Dr. Oana Danciu, a hematologist/oncologist at UI Health and leader of the Breast Cancer Survivorship Program at UI Health. “Once cancer treatment ends, a new set of long-term side effects and health concerns occur. These late effects vary from person to person. Some people have side effects like lymphedema and neuropathy; some have issues related to fertility, sexuality, or intimacy. Many tend to worry that their cancer will return. Proper planning and care can help manage these concerns.”

  • Other long-term and late side effects can include:
  • Heart problems
  • New cancers
  • Blood clots
  • Dental issues
  • Bone loss and osteoporosis
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms

The quality of life of a survivor depends on how well their physical and psychological needs are taken care of. Most importantly, it is essential to understand many of the concerns can be relieved. Effective coping requires:

  • Understanding challenges
  • Thinking through solutions
  • Asking for and allowing support from others
  • Feeling comfortable with the course of action you choose

Breast Cancer Survivorship Care

Following cancer treatment, many patients find themselves unsure about what they need to do and how to get the appropriate care. The Breast Cancer Survivorship Clinic at UI Health was established with the goal of helping patients focus on recovery by providing care and resources for improving their health and well-being.

At the end of cancer treatment, a specialized survivorship plan is made to help coordinate care between the survivor and their primary healthcare team. This plan includes medical information about the diagnosis and treatment of the cancer, specific characteristics of the tumor, and follow-up guidelines tailored to the type of cancer and treatment received. The guidelines provide recommendations for frequency and timing of physician visits, diagnostic tests, and exams.

The Breast Cancer Survivorship Team at UI Health provides personalized and patient-centered care to for every breast cancer survivor. Visit the Survivorship Clinic for more information.