A complex disease, it is estimated that over 200,000 people in Canada will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone. While surviving this illness is certainly a tremendous feat, patients require support as they continue to heal and build their lives after cancer. Keeping this in mind, William Osler Health System (Osler) has now opened doors to Toronto and Greater Toronto Area’s only Cancer Survivorship Clinic that has a dynamic team of physicians (including Medical Oncologists), nurses and social workers working together to provide patients with a more integrated approach to care and to improving their quality of life.
Led by Dr. Martin Chasen, Medical Oncologist and Palliative Care Physician at Osler, the clinic provides high-quality, integrated care which meets the many needs of patients that go well beyond monitoring detection of recurrent cancer.
“We are truly pleased to make available this clinic, which has been built keeping in mind the various needs of cancer survivors,” said Dr. Chasen. “Through this clinic, healthy patients now have increased access to the support, environment and tools they need and can have their care coordinated in a single space to more easily transition from sickness to health.”
Through this clinic, patients and their families receive individualized information and support in consultation with designated and skilled members of the health care team to prepare them for the follow-up care required post anti-cancer treatment; and to help alleviate distress in the transition from active treatment to the active follow-up phase of their cancer journey.
The dedicated team works with each patient to develop an individualized care plan for his/her ongoing treatment and monitoring needs. The care plan is an important tool patients can use as a personal reference and share with his/her family physician or anyone else involved in his/her future care. The clinic monitors long-term effects of treatment, evaluates psychosocial effects such as anxiety and depression, and puts patients in touch with community programs for additional support as needed. As well, patients and their family members receive information and encouragement that helps empower them to manage their own care and well-being; paying attention to things like exercise, stress management, and proper nutrition.
A formal partnership with Wellspring, a community-based support centre, is in place where patients are referred for a variety of programs including exercise, nutrition as well as to help patients with other issues they may experience, like “brain fog.”
Once patients have been prepared for the transition to life post-cancer, they are referred back to their family physicians so that they can continue to receive support as appropriate. Educating family physicians about “what to expect and look for” on each patient case is key to the success of this transition. The clinic team also undertakes to have the patient seen urgently should any suspicion of a recurrence become apparent.
Currently all patients are referred to the clinic through Osler’s Oncology Department.