McMaster University

McMaster University

New research program to focus on improved care for cancer survivors

By Amanda Boundris
Published: January 12, 2012
Esther Suter, Denise Bryant-Lukosius and Linda Watson
Participants in a national stakeholder meeting held at McMaster this week take part in group work to identify research priorities and solutions for improving cancer survivorship care. From left: Esther Suter, Alberta Health Services; Denise Bryant-Lukosius, director of the Canadian Centre of Excellence in Oncology Advanced Practice Nursing and the Canadian Centre for Advanced Practice Nursing Research; and Linda Watson, Alberta Health Services.

As the number of Canadians living with cancer continues to increase due to advances in treatment and support, researchers from McMaster are leading a new research program aimed at improving the care and quality of life for cancer survivors.

To that end, the Canadian Centre of Excellence in Oncology Advanced Practice Nursing (OAPN) at the Juravinski Cancer Centre and the Canadian Centre for Advanced Practice Nursing Research (CCAPNR) at the School of Nursing (SON) hosted national and international researchers, decision-makers, patient advocates and health care providers for two days this week at the McMaster Health Forum to identify research priorities and solutions for improving survivorship care. This national stakeholder meeting was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

"Cancer survivorship is a significant national issue for individuals and families affected by cancer and for the health care system at large," said Denise Bryant-Lukosius, director of the OAPN and CCAPNR, and associate professor with the SON and Department of Oncology at McMaster. "The current ways of providing follow-up care for cancer are not sustainable or effective in meeting important patient and family survivorship health needs."

Bryant-Lukosius said research and change is needed because there are more patients with unmet needs in the post-treatment phase than at any other stage of the cancer continuum. She added that the top three most important needs in research about cancer survivorship and the transition of post-treatment follow-up to community-based primary health care are: "To determine the most effective models of cancer survivorship care, to determine the effectiveness of knowledge translation strategies to ensure patient, provider and health system readiness to take up innovative models of post-treatment follow-up and cancer survivorship care, and to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to promote patient self-care management."

Louise Nasmith, a professor and principal of the College of Health Disciplines at the University of British Columbia, said "Everybody's talking about new models of care, about primary health care, so I think it's the right time to interject this."

Jonathan Sussman, an associate professor in the departments of medicine, oncology and the Division of Radiation Oncology at McMaster, and a radiation oncologist at the Juravinski Cancer Centre, added it is important to remember that "Cancer is 300 different diseases and you can't provide a class solution for everything."

Geoff Eaton, founder and executive director of Young Adult Cancer Canada, said follow-up care for cancer survivors means "not just detecting the cancer as soon as it comes back, it's about getting the patient back to a meaningful, fulfilled life."

Bryant-Lukosius said information from this week's meeting will inform grant development and submission to upcoming research opportunities, and researchers will soon begin the development and testing of new models of care and survivorship care interventions in the three participating provinces: Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

[More photos from the national stakeholder meeting]

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