Purpose: To examine the important role that primary care nurse practitioners (NPs) have in providing long-term surveillance and health maintenance for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors throughout the continuum of cancer care.
Data sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, MD-Consult, and Cochrane's databases were utilized with the inclusion of primary research and critical research reviews from January 1995 through March 2008. Select organizational websites were also cited.
Conclusions: Cancer patients experience changes in the focus of their care when management shifts from the treatment of cancer to management of treatment side effects and outcomes, to survivorship care, and to secondary cancer treatment. NPs have a strong impact on cancer survivorship care by serving in various roles and settings throughout the cancer trajectory to improve patient outcomes.
Implications for practice: Cancer survivorship care expands beyond specialty settings, into primary care. NPs have a key role in ensuring continuity of care for patients with cancer. Models of care that promote continuity and high quality of care for patients with cancer include the shared-care and nurse-managed health center models. The formal collaborative plan of care is essential in long-term cancer survivorship care.