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Cancer survivorship

Improvements in diagnosing and treating cancer mean that more people are surviving and living with cancer. Nearly 1.2 million people living in Australia today have been diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime.

Am I a cancer survivor?

The term “cancer survivor” is used to describe a person from the time of diagnosis onwards. For many people, survivor is a strong and positive word. Other people do not like being labelled and prefer to look towards a future that is not focused on cancer.

You may see yourself as a survivor as soon as you are diagnosed with cancer, when active treatment stops or when there are no more signs of cancer in the body. Or you may find it difficult to relate to the term survivor. Instead, you may think of yourself as someone who has had cancer or is living with cancer.

However you like to refer to yourself, you may wonder: what now? Research has shown that getting information about what to expect after finishing primary cancer treatment can help you prepare for life after cancer. This is known as the survivorship phase.

What is survivorship care?

Survivorship care aims to look after your emotional and physical wellbeing once primary cancer treatment is finished. This may include help dealing with  treatment side effects and maintaining a healthy lifestyle after treatment.

Some survivors live with cancer for many years. See our ‘Living with Advanced Cancer’ booklet for more information.

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Living Well After Cancer

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed November 2021 by the following expert content reviewers: Prof Michael Jefford, Medical Oncologist and Director, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Lucy Bailey, Nurse Counsellor, Cancer Council Queensland; Philip Bullas, Consumer; Dr Kate Gunn, Clinical Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow, Department of Rural Health, University of South Australia, SA; Rosemerry Hodgkin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof David Joske, Clinical Haematologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Clinical Professor of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, WA; Kim Kerin-Ayres, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Survivorship, Concord Hospital, NSW; Sally Littlewood, Physiotherapist, Seymour Health, VIC; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health, VIC; Melanie Moore, Exercise Physiologist and Clinical Supervisor, University of Canberra Cancer Wellness Clinic, ACT; June Savva, Senior Clinician Dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics, Monash Cancer Centre, Monash Health, VIC; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner and Research Fellow, University of New South Wales, NSW; Prof Janette Vardy, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre and Professor of Cancer Medicine, The University of Sydney, NSW; Lyndell Wills, Consumer.

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