“I’m Grateful for the Opportunity to Support Patients After Their Cancer Treatment”

In this season of giving thanks, a Lahey oncologist is expressing her gratitude for a special opportunity to support patients recovering from cancer.

Oncologist Krishna Gunturu, MD, is director of the newly established Survivorship Clinic at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. The clinic provides patients and their families with vital information on wellness, supportive services, and the latest health research related to surviving cancer and preventing cancer from recurring.

Dr. Gunturu worked to establish the clinic in response to the fact that a cancer diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and other treatments can cause emotional distress and physical changes that linger after active treatment is completed.

In just its first month, the clinic has supported nearly a dozen patients with a variety of needs – patients who are thankful that they are survivors with an opportunity to celebrate another Thanksgiving with family and friends.

“As oncologists, we are happy when scans are looking good and treatment is complete,” Dr. Gunturu said. “But cancer treatment can cause side effects such as hearing loss, neuropathy (nerve problems), balance difficulties, and more. So we wondered how we could help patients feel better, how to help with the transition after treatment.”

Many patients wonder about the right foods to eat after treatment, how they can lose weight they may have gained from medications they took, how to manage the emotional issues surrounding a cancer diagnosis, how to be effective in their return to work, and other concerns.

“We try to support people in all aspects, to help and empower them as they get their lives back,” Dr. Gunturu said. “We also help them manage emotional stress, such as worries about whether their cancer will come back. Our goal is support the whole person.”

Prior to a person’s first visit to the clinic, a multidisciplinary care team reviews the person’s cancer diagnosis and treatment history in order to develop an individualized treatment and survivorship plan. In addition to an oncologist, each person’s care team includes a dietitian, behavioral oncologist, physical therapist, and any other experts or referrals that may be needed.

“Cancer is just part of a person,” Dr. Gunturu points out. “Our team is helping patients become the person they were before their cancer treatment. It’s very gratifying to see.”

For more information about Lahey’s Survivorship Clinic and to schedule an appointment, please call 781.744.9777.