The Institute of Medicine identifies four essential components of cancer survivorship care and recommends that every cancer patient receive an individualized survivorship care plan for monitoring and maintaining health.
A growing number of cancer treatment centers and hospitals are establishing survivorship programs. Sometimes called cancer pre-habilitation (pretreatment care) and rehabilitation programs, these may include pain management, smoking cessation, exercise, and nutrition components. Programs often offer support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy targeting stress management, relaxation training, and coping skills.
Cancer survivors stand to benefit in many ways from a healthful lifestyle. Unfortunately, for some, a cancer diagnosis doesn’t always lead to health-protective changes. In a cross-sectional study of adult cancer survivors, most did meet the recommendation to avoid smoking, but only 30% to 47% met the physical activity recommendation, and about 15% to 19% met the five-a-day minimum vegetable and fruit target.
Dietitians play a vital role in enhancing cancer survivors’ health and quality of life. Assessing survivors’ nutritional status and dietary intake can identify areas in which they’re nutritionally lacking and also areas of potential excess. Guidance can help survivors meet nutritional needs and improve outcomes relevant to cancer, cardiovascular, and bone health. Survivors have wide-ranging needs for help in evaluating information from many sources and making evidence-based behavior changes that support recovery and long-term health, and dietitians can assist them in addressing these needs.
Following a healthy life style can help cancer survivors to thrive by enhancing their immune system and avoiding inflammation.