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Living beyond breast cancer: Next Steps Breast Cancer Survivorship Clinic

Woman with cancer enjoying nature with her son

There are over 4 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, more than with any other type of cancer. Patients being treated have regular appointments with their oncologist and other members of the care team, but they may not see them often once treatment is complete – despite the benefits of long-term follow-up care.

UAB Medicine’s Next Steps Breast Cancer Survivorship Clinic helps patients living beyond breast cancer through ongoing monitoring for long-term issues and watching for early signs of the cancer returning. This specialized clinic is a collaboration between the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB and the UAB Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship. Each patient is partnered with a dedicated survivorship social worker, who focuses on preventive care and improved wellness.

According to Jessica Sparks, a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) at the Next Steps Clinic, patients are seen once a year. Prior to the first appointment, each patient’s case is reviewed by a nurse practitioner to create a personalized survivorship care plan. This review covers the diagnosis, tumor type, and the dates and details of all therapies received – from surgery and radiation to chemo, antibody, and hormone therapy. Depending on the therapies received, screening tests to detect treatment-related complications may be recommended and ordered.

Sparks says the clinic helps patients stay healthier and make more educated decisions about their wellness. Each visit includes a physical exam, an in-depth review of the survivorship care plan, and a complete discussion about their survivorship journey. Referrals to other UAB Medicine clinics may be made on a case-by-case basis. New clinic patients receive a survivorship guidebook that includes treatment summaries, the customized care plan, follow-up recommendations, and clinic contact information.

The Next Steps Clinic is not just for patients treated at UAB Medicine – all breast cancer survivors are welcome. It is for people who:

  • Have had a diagnosis of breast cancer
  • Are at least 12 months from their initial diagnosis
  • Are not currently receiving breast cancer treatment, other than hormone therapy

Click here to learn more about the Next Steps Breast Cancer Survivorship Clinic and to schedule an appointment.

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