Survivorship services for adult cancer populations: a pan-Canadian guideline

Curr Oncol. 2011 Dec;18(6):e265-81. doi: 10.3747/co.v18i6.956.


Objective: Our goal was to develop evidence-based recommendations for the organization and structure of cancer survivorship services, and best-care practices to optimize the health and well-being of post-primary treatment survivors. This review sought to determine the optimal organization and care delivery structure for cancer survivorship services, and the specific clinical practices and interventions that would improve or maximize the psychosocial health and overall well-being of adult cancer survivors.

Data sources: We conducted a systematic search of the Inventory of Cancer Guidelines at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, the U.S. National Guideline Clearinghouse, the Canadian Medical Association InfoBase, medline (ovid: 1999 through November 2009), embase (ovid: 1999 through November 2009), Psychinfo (ovid: 1999 through November 2009), the Cochrane Library (ovid; Issue 1, 2009), and cinahl (ebsco: 1999 through December 2009). Reference lists of related papers and recent review articles were scanned for additional citations.

Methods: Articles were selected for inclusion as evidence in the systematic review if they reported on organizational system components for survivors of cancer, or on psychosocial or supportive care interventions HOWELL et al. designed for survivors of cancer. Articles were excluded from the systematic review if they focused only on pediatric cancer survivor populations or on populations that transitioned from pediatric cancer to adult services; if they addressed only pharmacologic interventions or diagnostic testing and follow-up of cancer survivors; if they were systematic reviews with inadequately described methods; if they were qualitative or descriptive studies; and if they were opinion papers, letters, or editorials.

Data extraction and synthesis: Evidence was selected and reviewed by three members of the Cancer Journey Survivorship Expert Panel (SM, TC, TKO). The resulting summary of the evidence was guided further and reviewed by the members of Cancer Journey Survivorship Expert Panel. Fourteen practice guidelines, eight systematic reviews, and sixty-thee randomized controlled trials form the evidence base for this guidance document. These publications demonstrate that survivors benefit from coordinated post-treatment care, including interventions to address specific psychosocial, supportive care, and rehabilitative concerns.

Conclusions: Ongoing high-quality research is essential to optimize services for cancer survivors. Interventions that promote healthy lifestyle behaviours or that address psychosocial concerns and distress appear to improve physical functioning, psychosocial well-being, and quality of life for survivors.

Keywords: Psychosocial; cancer survivor; care plan; organization of care; supportive care; survivorship.