We just had the “Stand Up To Cancer” event this past Friday trying to raise funds for cancer research. I think it’s great that researchers are trying to come up with new treatments both in technology and pharmaceuticals but it’s only part of the issue. The other issue is the follow-up care patients receive to make sure that any troubles down the road are caught before they get out of hand. That’s why I was so surprised when I saw an article about the new findings on follow-up care with colon cancer patients in the journal Cancer.
The study looked at over 4,000 colon cancer patients. All went through treatment. The shocking part of the study was that only 40% received proper follow-up care. For purposes of the study follow-up care included blood tests, doctor visits and a colonoscopy. What’s shocking is that colon cancer has a very high cure rate when caught before it spreads, so to hear that 40% aren’t receiving proper follow-up care is alarming. Doesn’t it throw all the new treatments out the window if the follow-up care isn’t part of the process?
It shouldn’t be a surprise that those who had less screening were older adults, African-Americans and those who had other health problems, aside from the cancer. This discrepancy is unconscionable. We have to create processes that develop safety nets for those more prone to fall by the side of the road. When we can diminish the occurrence of cancer and improve quality of life, increase longevity, don’t you think that follow-up needs to be a priority?
This study was on colon cancer patients, but begin to think about how this applies to you and others with your diagnosis. What are providers leaving out of the treatment process that could help you? The article on Comcast had a gastroenterologist say that the fault of no follow-up was on the provider. If that’s the case what support systems, case managers, etc do medical providers need so the stats in the study don’t disgrace all the good the doctors, technology and medication are trying to support?
Do you feel like you’ve fallen through the cracks? Let us know and we can support you in being assertive to get the care you need!