What Happened to the Survivorship Care Plan?

Within the Survivorship Movement, publication of the landmark report “From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition,” in 2006 was a watershed moment. One of the 10 recommendations for enhancing survivor care was to require that oncology healthcare providers write “a comprehensive care summary and follow-up plan that is clearly and effectively explained.”

The recommendation became the Survivorship Care Plan (SCP) and over the next 10 years organizations invested resources in creating templates, writing guidelines, developing software, and hiring and training staff to deliver the SCP. In 2012, the Commission on Cancer (CoC) made delivery of the plan to survivors a requirement for accreditation.

In October 2019, the CoC rescinded its requirement. In April 2020, the journal JCO® Oncology Practice editorialized that the move was in response to healthcare providers’ complaints that “SCPs were time consuming to prepare; there was lack of clarity in who should complete and maintain the information (e.g., surgeons, medical oncology, radiation oncology, nursing); and there was a lack of reimbursement for the completion and distribution of the SCP.” https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JOP.19.00801

The risk this change poses to survivors is clear to the authors:

“The risk in the change of the standard, however, is that there will be less emphasis on survivorship care as a whole and that individuals will continue to lack knowledge surrounding the treatments received, follow-up, and risk of late effects.”

The SCP is a survivor’s North Star. Our SCP serves as both a repository for detailed information about our treatment, and also as a guide as we address existing impairments created by cancer and our treatments, as we schedule future screenings, and as we watch for late- and long-term effects of treatment. If you don’t already have a SCP, I encourage you to go to  https://oncolife.oncolink.org to get started. It takes less than 10 minutes.

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