Health Magazine

Make Sure Your Primary Care Physician is Kept Up To Date on Your Cancer Care

Posted on the 01 June 2012 by Jean Campbell

primary careWhen I was diagnosed with breast cancer the second time, I knew the drill.

I requested, in writing, that my cancer team provide my primary care physician a copy of every test result, information on every procedure, every treatment, every medication and every possible side effect, both short and long-term.

The first time around, I wasn’t as knowledgeable and not every one of my cancer care providers sent my primary care physician courtesy copies of my care plan, medications, etc.

A new survey found that many primary care physicians don’t know the long-term side effects of the chemotherapy treatments that cancer survivors under their care may have been given.

This is cause for concern as once cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation are complete, primary care physicians become a critical part of continuing care for cancer survivors.

Given that chemotherapy can have long term side effects, it is very important that primary care physicians know what drugs their patients received and how this could impact their health in the future. Long-term effects of treatment can hold the answer to a new symptom a patient is experiencing.

While many of us continue to see out oncologists for years after completing active treatment, we still see our primary physicians for routine care.

Patients can’t assume that their cancer teams are keeping their primary care physicians informed through care and at the completion of their care.

Despite the stress of a breast cancer diagnosis and all that means, each of us needs to take responsibility for staying on top of communications between our cancer care team, that  provides time-limited, intensive care, and the primary care physician who is our long-term care provider.

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