Karissa Hahn, a 33-year-old breast cancer survivor from New Jersey who was diagnosed in 2009 when she was pregnant, underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to treat stage 3 cancer. She said when her treatment ended, her oncologist recommended she check in with her every three months for the first six months, then every six months after that. When elevated blood pressure and an ear infection cropped up during that time though, Hahn went to see her primary care physician who helped her manage both conditions successfully. She also visited a midwife for other health needs.
She said it was up to her to decide where to get her care. "It was hard to know whether I should call my oncologist or my primary care physician," said Hahn, who recently learned her cancer has returned.
Study author Hudson said more bridges need to be built between oncologists, primary care physicians and cancer survivors.
"Right now, it's all on the patient," said Hudson. "The primary care physicians need a guide for care, especially for early-stage cancer survivors. We need practical guidelines that say, 'Here's what you do for this type of cancer patient.'"
In the meantime, she said patients can ask lots of questions. "They need to be proactive with their oncologists about asking them how and when they transition back to primary care."
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on post-cancer care.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.