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Living with cancer and multimorbidity

the role of primary care

Blane, David N.a; Lewandowska, Martab

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: September 2019 - Volume 13 - Issue 3 - p 213–219
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000454

Purpose of review As more people live longer with cancer, the number of patients with cancer and multiple other chronic conditions (multimorbidity) has increased. The presence of multimorbidity impacts on all stages of cancer care, from prevention and early detection through to end of life care, but research into cancer and multimorbidity is in its infancy. This review explores the impact of multimorbidity on adults living with (and beyond) cancer, with particular attention paid to the role of primary care in supporting patients in this situation.

Recent findings Patterns of multimorbidity vary depending on cancer type and stage, as well as population characteristics and available data (e.g. number of conditions assessed). Cancer survivors are at increased risk of developing other chronic conditions, due to a combination of shared risk factors (e.g. smoking and obesity), effects of cancer treatments and psychosocial effects.

Summary Primary care has a central role to play in supporting multimorbid adults living with cancer, providing holistic care of physical and mental well being, while taking treatment burden and social circumstances into account. New models of person-centred and personalized cancer care include holistic needs assessments, care planning, treatment summaries and cancer care reviews, and depend on improved communication between oncologists and primary care colleagues.

aGeneral Practice and Primary Care, Institute of Health and Wellbeing

bUndergraduate Medical School, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Correspondence to David N. Blane, General Practice and Primary Care, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, 1 Horselethill Road, Glasgow G12 9LX, UK. Tel: +44 0141 330 5765; e-mail:

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