During cancer treatment families become used to seeing their oncologist for most of their healthcare needs. Usually the oncologist will send updates to their patients’ pediatrician or primary care provider (PCP) about their progress in treatment. After finishing treatment, however, it is important for families to reconnect with a PCP. Some families will see a pediatrician for primary care, others may see a family medicine doctor. It is important as you choose a PCP that you find someone you trust.
Why is having a PCP important?
A PCP will serve as your medical home, the head of your healthcare team. Seeing your PCP regularly will help him stay up to date about the needs of your child and be able to provide the best care possible. It is also important that your PCP has a complete list of any medical problems your child has or has had in the past. This will help him when coordinating your child’s healthcare needs.
Transitioning back to your PCP after cancer treatment
Many times transitioning care back to a PCP can be scary for families. After all, you’re used to calling your oncology team whenever your child has a problem. After treatment is finished many of your child’s health needs should be met by your PCP. Your oncologist will tell you when it’s time to transition back to your PCP for most of your child’s healthcare.
Communicating with your PCP: Cancer SurvivorLink can help!
After treatment you want to make sure your PCP is up to date on your child’s cancer history and any health problems that could develop after treatment (called late effects). When patients are two years off treatment they can be seen in the Aflac Cancer Survivor Clinic. During this visit survivors will receive a Survivor Healthcare Plan (SHP) which consists of three parts:
- Treatment summary including information about cancer diagnosis and all cancer treatments.
- Individualized risk profile for late effects of cancer treatment based on the cancer therapies received.
- Individualized surveillance plan to screen for late effects.
Your PCP should have a copy of your child’s SHP as should any of the other healthcare providers you see, for example a cardiologist or orthopedist. You can electronically store your SHP in a protected website, Cancer SurvivorLink, created by doctors and researchers at Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. You can also store other important health documents, for example a letter from your oncologist or a report from cardiology. Using Cancer SurvivorLink, you can share a copy of your SHP and any other health documents you have stored with your PCP, and any other doctors your see. You can also use Cancer SurvivorLink to quickly pull up your stored health documents if needed in an emergency or when you see a new healthcare provider. If you haven’t been to a survivor clinic yet, you can use Cancer SurvivorLink to find a clinic in your area.