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Cancer Support Community: Improving the Standard of Care for Breast Cancer Survivors

The Cancer Support Community (CSC) was formed in 2009 by the the Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club.  Together, they offer both psychological and social support to individuals living with cancer.  CSC is committed to behavioral, psychosocial and survivorship research and training in an effort to provide cancer patients and caregivers with the most comprehensive survivorship plan throughout their experience with the disease and its treatment.

In recent news, CSC released findings collected from over 1,000 breast cancer survivors, in the first Breast Cancer M.A.P. (Mind Affects the Physical) Index, that suggest an absence of social and emotional support in the current standards of care. “The research indicates high levels of distress among breast cancer survivors and minimal awareness tools and programs designed to improve communication between patients and physicians when weighing a patient’s treatment options.” Patients also indicated that their various medical teams rarely collaborated with one another, although that was implied in the initial treatment plan.

The goal of the Breast Cancer M.A.P Index was to assess whether patients psychosocial needs were being met in three key areas: 1) provider/patient communication when making treatment decisions, 2) screening for social and emotional distress after diagnosis, and 3) the role of survivorship care after treatment. What they found was that patients often felt unprepared to discuss treatment options with their providers and frequently, they’re long-term care was not adequately addressed. Another finding from the study implied that patient’s emotional and psychological needs were not being met when they transitioned from treatment to survivorship.  Taken together, these findings indicate a need for a more comprehensive treatment plan that includes emotional and psychological support.

The insights gained from this study will help in the development of more resources and programs that are designed to support patients from diagnosis through survivorship. The Breast Cancer M.A.P Index identifies gaps in care that, if addressed, can lead to improved services and aftercare for millions of cancer patients. Survivors interested in participating in the M.A.P Project can join online at www.breastcancerregistry.org or call 1.888.MAP.CSC9.


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