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The Patient Journey - St. Luke's Cancer Institute

Your experience with cancer is just beginning. You’ll go through many or all of the stages of care listed below, and it’s important to understand what to expect from your journey, and from the people who will be by your side every step of the way.


We’ll work with your primary care and referring providers to make sure you’re able to receive a diagnosis in a timely manner so you can begin your treatment.

Cancer Treatment

Your treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, biotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Your oncologist will talk with you about the goal of your treatment, and explain how the therapy works. Some patients are treated with an intent to cure the disease, while other patients with advanced disease may receive ongoing treatment to slow cancer growth and manage symptoms.

Early Survivorship

The first two years after cancer treatment require close follow-up care. You will see your treating physicians or advanced practice providers (nurse practitioner or physician assistant) every three to six months to monitor for cancer recurrence. You will also have a dedicated survivorship visit where you’ll receive a survivorship treatment summary and care plan. At this point, you’ll begin to re-establish care with your primary care provider for general health maintenance.

Supportive Oncology

Supportive oncology providers work alongside your physicians to help you and your family be as strong and stable as possible throughout your cancer journey. Services include palliative care, survivorship, social work, psychiatry, spiritual care, nutritional counseling, rehabilitation, financial advocacy and integrative medicine.

Palliative Treatment

Patients who continue to receive cancer treatment may be off and on therapy for many months or years. The treatment you’re given will be carefully balanced with your goals. The palliative care team will be involved from the beginning, working together with your oncologist to “co-manage” your care with a focus on easing symptoms and supporting your health.

Extended Survivorship

During years three through five after curative treatment, you will continue to be followed by advanced practice providers at St. Luke’s Cancer Institute every six months. They will monitor you for long-term side effects and cancer recurrence and will consult with your treating oncologists and/or your primary care providers as appropriate.

Long-Term Survivorship

When you have been off cancer treatment for five years or more, it is appropriate for all follow-up care and cancer surveillance to transition to your primary care provider.


If cancer treatments are no longer working to treat the disease, or are causing more side effects than a patient wishes to tolerate, it may be appropriate to transition to hospice care. Your oncology and palliative care team will work closely with you and your family to determine the right time to make this transition.