A survivorship care plan (SCP) is a personalized document that includes not only the details of your cancer treatment, but also the plan for your medical care going forward. This document is meant to bridge the gap between active treatment and longitudinal care. While each SCP is slightly different, the ideal survivorship care plan can help you understand the plan for your care after treatment, has strategies to manage short and long term effects of treatment, facilitates accurate and efficient communication between members of your current and future medical team, and empowers you to have more control over your health. If you were never given one or you can’t find yours, we’ve created tips and tricks to help you create your own survivorship "game plan" document.
What is the SCP, and why does it matter?
A survivorship care plan (SCP) is a detailed medical document created by the care team, ideally with survivor’s input. For many survivors, the goal of an SCP is to support the survivor during the transition from active cancer treatment with oncology to the next phase of medical care. This next phase is typically more self-directed in partnership with physicians such as primary care doctors. This is why the survivorship care plan is so important - it’s a tool for communication, as well as a plan of action for the longitudinal care of survivors.
Each survivorship care plan looks different, but typically includes some of the following components:
- Details of your cancer (type, stage, grade)
- The type and duration of your treatment including things like potential chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries
- Potential complications that may have occurred during treatment and how they were managed
- Possible short and late term effects of treatment
- Strategies for managing any current symptoms you may have
- Strategies for reducing the risk of late effects of treatment (this can include screening, lifestyle interventions such as healthy eating and exercise)
- Plan for screening for recurrence as well as secondary cancers
Where do survivorship care plans live?
At VivorCare, we frequently hear from survivors that they aren’t sure if they received a survivorship care plan or that they can't find it. The first place to look is your medical record, particularly in care notes towards the end of treatment. Often elements of the SCP can be found there. You may discover that there is no one document in your medical record that is explicitly labeled as an SCP - which is OK. There is still a ton of value in identifying where in your record some of this information lives. Similarly, it’s important to note that there is a great deal of variation in practice patterns from place to place and many survivors aren’t given a survivorship care plan, or might not be able to locate the one they have. If you find yourself in this situation, we’ve designed a strategy to create your own document that summarizes your information.
Creating your own survivorship Game Plan :
1. Start with any existing records from your care team. Your primary oncologist may have documented this information without labeling it an SCP.
2. If you are unable to see your oncologist, consider asking your primary care provider to create an action plan for your care, including elements you think would be helpful for your day to day life.
3. Developing your own record of treatment and survivorship experiences can be helpful to equip you for future conversations with your medical team. Consider including the following elements:
- The treatment you received
- Any short or long-term symptoms you experienced, and what strategies you used to manage those symptoms
- Your general wellness plan - this might include your goals for mental health, diet, exercise, and overall healthy living
- Your understanding of the schedule for surveillance moving forward. This can also help you plan around these dates, and anticipate anything that might come up (scanxiety, needing time off work, etc)
In summary, a longitudinal care plan can be a powerful tool to support you and your medical team in your survivorship journey. If you are a survivor and you were not initially given an SCP, there is a lot you can do in partnership with your medical team to get this information. If you have experience with the survivorship care plan or feedback on what was useful for you, we want to hear from you! DM us on social media or send us an email with your thoughts.