This month, the Lymphoma Research Foundation endorsed the bipartisan Cancer Care Planning and Communications (CCPC) Act. Co-Sponsored by U.S. Congressmen Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX), the CCPC Act would establish a new Medicare service for cancer care planning. A written and expertly developed care plan can help cancer patients through the difficult process of cancer diagnosis, treatment choices, treatment management, and survivorship.
“The Lymphoma Research Foundation is supportive of this legislation and of the use of cancer care planning for patients,” said Meghan Gutierrez, Chief Executive Officer of the Lymphoma Research Foundation. “Care planning promotes shared decision-making between patients and their cancer care teams and supports informed decisions, as treatment choices for people with lymphoma and CLL are becoming increasingly complex.”
A cancer care plan can be developed and shared with the Medicare beneficiary at several points in the cancer care continuum, including: at the time of diagnosis, for the purposes of planning initial active treatment; when there is any substantial change in the condition of the individual, recurrence of disease, changes in the individual’s treatment preferences, or significant revision of the elements of curative care or symptom management for the individual; and at the completion of primary treatment for cancer, when the plan may serve as a follow-up survivorship care plan.
In several evaluations of the cancer care system, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) National Cancer Policy Forum found that cancer patients rarely receive a plan of care. The IOM has said that patients should receive a cancer care plan because the planning process triggers a solid treatment decision-making process and facilitates the coordination of treatment and supportive care, including management of nausea and vomiting, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. After patients finish active treatment, they may transition into a different system for survivorship care. These patients require monitoring of the effects of their cancer treatment and for cancer recurrence, as well as follow-up care provided according to recommended schedules. A written plan facilitates the transition to survivorship and the ongoing follow-up that is required.