CINCINNATI—Beverly (Bev) Reigle, PhD, associate professor in the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, has been named director of the UC Cancer Institute’s Cancer Survivorship Program.
The program is centered on enhancing the quality of life for cancer survivors through patient-centered care which begins during diagnosis and progresses throughout that person’s life.
"According to the American Cancer Society, there are now more than 13.7 million cancer survivors in the United States and that number is expected to grow to nearly 18 million by 2022,” Reigle says. Survivorship is a necessary component of care as rates of survival continue to climb. It begins after diagnosis and continues throughout a patient’s lifespan where several baselines of care are established and re-established.
"The survivorship program focuses on educating the health care providers, patients and caregivers, and broader community about the short and long-term effects of treatment, evidence-based interventions to address these effects, surveillance and prevention strategies and cancer rehabilitation approaches with the overall goal of patients living a fulfilling life.”
Reigle, who received a master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University and a PhD in adult nursing from the University of Texas, Austin, and has been a nurse and faculty member at UC for over 20 years, says that while plans are still forming about specifics of the survivorship program, there is a structure in place that will involve all stages of a patient’s recovery.
"We’ll be looking at American Society of Clinical Oncology and National Cancer Institute guidelines and will work to create individual survivorship plans for each patient within our system,” she says. "There will be specific focus placed on data collection and communication between oncologists and the basic care teams in addition to a patient’s nutrition, physical therapy, exercise, integrative medicine and emotional and mental care plans.”
She adds that part of the plan will place strong emphasis on communicating information with the primary care doctors about where attention is needed to identify treatment-related effects and detect cancer recurrence early
"While primary care doctors are well trained and knowledgeable about medicine, oncologists, who are specially trained in cancer and deal with it on a daily basis, may detect a problem primary care doctors may not,” she says, adding that as part of the education component, there will be importance placed on regular communication between the two groups of specialists. "We will also work on educating and fostering the family unit—not just the patient—as the primary caregivers need to be involved in all aspects of survivorship.”
Above all, Reigle says the program will involve research—finding the best tools to assess needs and interventions—education to patients, families, providers (doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists and others) health professions students and the community and an interdisciplinary approach to providing patients with the care they need both during and after cancer treatment.
"This very important program is needed, and it’s not just about treatment strategies or services,” she says. "It’s all-encompassing and assesses all aspects of a patient’s needs for the best experiences and outcomes.”