The American Academy of Family Physicians supports the 2013 report of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as the Istitute of Medicine), “Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis,” and its recognition of the need for an integrated healthcare team to address the needs of cancer patients. Family physicians should play a role at all stages of cancer care: cancer diagnosis, referral for specialty care, co-management with specialty care, survivorship management, palliative care and hospice care. The following elements of quality care should be accessible for each individual with cancer:
Cancer Diagnosis: Patients should have healthcare access to ensure evidence-based screening and early identification of cancer.
Referral for Specialty Care: Patients should have affordable and accessible options for cancer care. Accurate staging and prognosis should be completed and communicated in language that patients can understand. Treatment options should be presented with a clear explanation of the benefits and expected side effects. There should be written communication back to the referring family physician.
Co-management with Specialty Care: The cancer-care team should include family physicians and healthcare clinicians. There should be transparent communication between members of the care team. Co-management should recognize the complexity and cost of care and work toward adherence to cost-effective, evidence-based treatment algorithms.
Survivorship Management: Patients should have access to appropriate surveillance and screening tests specific to cancer they have had, and the anticipated long-term side effects of treatments they have received. The family physicians, should be educated about the protocols for survivorship management. A transition of care document should be created to clarify who will be conducting the ongoing surveillance and recommended testing.
Palliative Care: Patients should have access to palliative care concurrent with active treatment as well as conventional hospice care. Patients should be engaged and informed of their choices. Patients should be given accurate information about their prognosis and this should be included in documents that are shared with other members of the cancer care team.
(May 2016 BOD) (April 2021 BOD)