Preventive Health in Cancer Survivors: What Should We Be Recommending?

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  • a University of Colorado Cancer Center, and Division of General Internal Medicine and Division of Medical Oncology, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado.
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Individuals with a history of cancer, often referred to as cancer survivors, may experience late and long-term effects of their treatment. Because these individuals live longer in the survivorship phase, some of these late effects may also be considered risk factors for other chronic conditions. With cancer and cardiovascular disease now the top 2 leading causes of death in the United States and with common risk factors for both, as well as the morbidity that can occur after cancer treatment, preventive health is becoming an important issue in cancer survivorship care. Multimorbidity is also becoming increasingly commonplace. Along with an ever-expanding number of guidelines available to help guide care and treatment in the noncancer population comes the need to consider where these guidelines overlap or intersect when considering preventive health recommendations specific to cancer survivors. Counseling for health promotion in survivors is lacking. Many currently available guidelines may not apply to this population, and an evidence base is building to help supplement clinical judgement. An interdisciplinary approach will be necessary to help implement preventive care decision-making early in the survivorship trajectory and to ensure that cancer survivors are receiving consistent messages, and patient preferences and priorities should be taken into account when doing so. Incorporating preventive health into collaborative survivorship care can help maintain a high quality of life for individuals living after a cancer diagnosis.

Correspondence: Linda S. Overholser, MD, MPH, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, 12631 East 17th Avenue, Mail Stop B180, Aurora, CO 80045. Email:

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