A paper recently published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship makes a strong case for a unique model of survivorship care founded on primary care. The Johns Hopkins Primary Care for Cancer Survivor (PCCS) Clinic has been successfully operating for four years, helping cancer patients cope with potential health challenges in a multi-disciplinary setting. In addition to providing full primary and follow-up cancer care services, the clinic helps patients manage long-term side effects of cancer treatment such as providing referrals to specialty services, psychosocial support, and community organizations centered on cancer survivorship.
The PCCS clinic has two locations: one urban and one suburban. It is staffed by five primary care physicians with interest and expertise in cancer survivorship, including the program founder and Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Co-Investigator Kimberly Peairs, MD, FACP. The clinic was built to support the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, but it accepts external referrals as well. Between August 2015 and May 2019, the clinic has received 230 patients. Average time from appointment request to scheduled date was 39 days (median 28 days). After an initial consultation, over a third of patients were referred to additional services, the most common being physical therapy (5.7%), gynecology (4.8%), local cancer support organizations (4.8%), gastroenterology (3.9%), and nutrition (3.9%). In further support of this care model, promising billing data shows that the clinic is financially sustainable.
Results from a survey administered at the PCCS clinic reflect national data on the challenges of cancer survivorship. Most patients expressed concern about their cancer returning (61.7%), while others were seeking help to improve their memory and concentration (51.3%). In terms of physical needs, most patients reported experiencing fatigue (18.6%) and weight change (17.3%).
According to the paper’s authors, the lessons learned from the Johns Hopkins Primary Care for Cancer Survivor clinic indicate that there is great value in developing a survivorship care program rooted in general medicine. PCPs treat patients as whole individuals, each with their own unique set of needs. Additionally, PCPs can help patients through cancer survivorship without losing sight of other diseases not directly related to cancer, therefore emphasizing preventative health and quality of life.
Learn more here: Youngjee Choi, Archana Radhakrishnan, Darshan Mahabare, Shalom Patole, Sydney M. Dy, Craig E. Pollack, Zackary D. Berger, Kimberly S. Peairs – The Johns Hopkins Primary Care for Cancer Survivor Clinic: lessons learned in our first 4 years.