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The Role of Doctor-Patient Communication in Survivorship

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Published on February 28, 2017

In this replay from the 2017 ASCO survivorship meeting in San Diego, Patient Power meets with Dr. Keith Argenbright, Director of the Moncrief Cancer Institute, to discuss the use of survivorship services to get patients back to living their lives as they were before. Dr. Argenbright says, "As physicians, we've gotten really pretty good about curing cancer, but now we need to understand how patients can best get back to their life that they had before." He ends by explaining how patients need to be communicating with their doctors about their survivorship services.

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Transcript | The Role of Doctor-Patient Communication in Survivorship

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Keith Argenbright:

We’re privileged to see a lot of cancer survivors in our program, and what we hear from them over and over is that, “I survived cancer, but your program got me back to living again.” And that’s one of the things that we are beginning to understand how important it is. As physicians, we’ve gotten really pretty good about curing cancer, but now we need to understand how patients can best get back to their life that they had before. So, we offer things like nutritional counseling and seminars, we offer psychological help. We offer financial counseling. Financial—cancer is one of the leading causes of medical bankruptcy in this country.

So it’s extremely important for patients to not only know about our services but to interact with our services and understand that this is as much of an important part of your healing as the chemotherapy or the radiation therapy or the surgery that you might have had before.

I think it’s important that the patients do have conversations with their physicians about some of these survivor services, and a lot of it is going to really depend on where they live, because their physician might say, “We’ve got a comprehensive program that’s part of our institution. Or we’ve got a comprehensive program that’s part of our community.” Sometimes they’re going to get these services through the web or through telemedicine. Our model is a unique one in that we actually, using an 18-wheeler mobile clinic, bring these services out to the communities, but not everybody has something like that.

The patient and the family should ask. And if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they need to ask somebody else, because these services are out there, and every cancer survivor needs to know about them and needs to know about how to interface with them so that they can have the benefit according to their need.  

All cancer survivors are different, and all physicians should look at individual cancer survivors as individuals and probably not make generalizations, because a fever in a cancer survivor that’s undergoing chemotherapy is a lot different than someone who survived an early breast cancer 10 or 15 years ago. And so we as physicians need to not just say, “Oh, well, this is a cancer survivor. I need to treat them differently.” We need to say, “Okay, this is a cancer survivor. What do I need to know about them individually. so I can create a tailored approach and treatment plan for them?” 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.