Saturday 19 September 2020

Cancer aftercare insufficient, say experts who launch national plan

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Health professionals have come up with a national action plan for longer-term and cheaper aftercare for cancer patients.

The plan, presented on Friday during an online conference on how to live with cancer, is aimed at improving the lives of people who have survived cancer but whose aftercare can last many years.

More people get cancer but better treatment also means more people survive the illness. Around a million people are currently living with the effects of cancer in the Netherlands, with one in four experiencing severe tiredness or nerve damage. A third are afraid the illness will return while other have relationship or work problems.

‘This protracted treatment for cancer damages people,’ oncologist Jourik Gietema told the AD. ‘Our experience is that the aftercare available for these people is insufficient.’

The proposal gives a bigger role to family doctors who should be more alert to the needs of ex-cancer patients and refer them to targeted specialist care. More money has to be made available so patients won’t have to pay for it out of their own pocket, the experts say.

Nine out of 10 people who need physiotherapy have to pay for the sessions themselves because they do not have additional insurance.

‘It is strange that the basic insurance does not provide this type of aftercare. People can’t predict they will get cancer and that the chemo means they will need physiotherapy,’ cancer recovery expert Martijn Stuiver said. ‘But if you offer physio people will reach a level of recovery much sooner and that will save on other care costs.’

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