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Published on July 18, 2017

Collaborative Survivorship Program Available for Prostate Cancer Patients

MidMichigan Health, in collaboration with the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, strives to provide patients with strategies to optimize their overall health and wellness, now and in the future. To help meet this goal, a Prostate Cancer Survivorship Program has been established to ease the transition that follows the completion of active cancer treatment.

The program’s mission is to provide excellent clinical care to patients while fostering research that will lead to further advances in care for cancer survivors. A key element in survivorship is developing an individualized treatment summary and plan of care, which provides information on the treatment patients receive and how to manage health care in the future.

“Survivorship care is an emerging priority in cancer care,” said Joan Herbert, Ph.D., director of oncology services, MidMichigan Health. “Our goal in creating this program with our partners at U-M is to assist patients in learning more about health issues that might occur after they’ve completed cancer treatment, and provide strategies that will help them address these concerns. We want to help our patients achieve and maintain a lifestyle that is healthy for them.”

Daniela Wittmann, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., clinical assistant professor of urology at Michigan Medicine, worked with MidMichigan Health to establish the program. “The partnership between U-M and MidMichigan offers a unique opportunity to develop best practices in prostate cancer survivorship in Michigan,” Wittmann said. “Through the use of telemedicine, we ensure optimal patient care, and by sharing resources, we strive toward cost effectiveness and efficiency. Providers from both health systems have tirelessly worked to make all the necessary links to make this program successful, and we look forward to continuing collaboration and learning in order to enhance care in prostate cancer survivorship in Michigan.

The multidisciplinary clinic team for the program includes physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, physical therapists, clinic nurses and staff from MidMichigan Health, as well as the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

During a survivorship visit, patients will meet with Family Nurse Practitioner Renee Kern, M.S.N., F.N.P.-B.C., who is also the program’s coordinator. Kern has extensive education and training in the care of prostate cancer patients. Patients will receive a comprehensive health exam, followed by open discussion about topics of concern related to their individual prostate cancer histories. These discussions include information about signs and symptoms of prostate cancer recurrence; management of side effects from treatment; counseling for sexual health recovery for individuals and couples; penile rehabilitation; pelvic floor rehabilitation; prostate cancer screening; lifestyle recommendations and any other questions or concerns patients may have.

To ensure continuity of care, a treatment summary and survivorship care plan is sent following the visit to the patient, his primary care physician and the physician who referred the patient to this program. The patient will return to the care of his original oncology team should he have symptoms of recurrence or if there is a change in his cancer treatment plan.

All new patients must be referred to the Prostate Cancer Survivorship Program by one of their prostate care doctors. Those who are interested in the program should consult with their physician to determine when the time is right for a referral. Those who would like to schedule an appointment may contact Kern at (989) 839-3805.

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