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Next Steps Breast Cancer Survivorship Clinic provides post-treatment care

Smiling mid adult Asian woman smiles while talking with oncologist. The patient is wearing a pink shirt with a breast cancer awareness ribbon.

There are over 4 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, more than with any other type of cancer. Patients undergoing treatment usually have frequent 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.

Survivors can receive specialized, personalized care from UAB Medicine’s Next Steps Breast Cancer Survivorship Clinic. A collaboration between the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB and the UAB Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship, the clinic provides ongoing monitoring for long-term complications and looks for early signs should the breast cancer return. The Next Steps Clinic also focuses on promoting health through preventive care and by partnering with a dedicated survivorship social worker to address any needs or concerns.

According to Jessica Sparks, a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) at the Next Steps Clinic, patients are seen in the clinic once a year. Prior to the first appointment, each patient’s case is reviewed by a nurse practitioner, and a customized survivorship care plan is created. This case history includes details about the diagnosis, tumor type, and the dates and doses of all types of therapy that the survivor received (i.e. surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, antibody, and hormone therapy).

New clinic patients receive a survivorship guidebook detailing their treatment summary, customized care plan, follow-up recommendations, and clinic contact information. Depending on the therapy the survivor received, screening tests to detect treatment-related complications may be recommended and ordered.

Sparks said the clinic empowers patients to make more educated decisions about their health and wellness and to stay as healthy as possible. Visits include a physical exam, an in-depth review of the survivorship care plan, and a thorough discussion about all aspects of the survivorship journey. Referrals to other UAB Medicine clinics may be recommended on a case-by-case basis.

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 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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