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UNC Lineberger has been selected to participate in A Survivor Action Partnership – United States of America (ASAP USA), a consortium of institutions that will collaborate to develop and study interventions to improve the lives of prostate cancer survivors in the United States. Sixteen institutions were selected following a peer reviewed application process. Ronald Chen, MD, MPH, assistant professor of radiation oncology is leading the UNC Lineberger ASAP USA team.

Survivorship is a primary research interest for Dr. Chen, and he notes that UNC Lineberger has a uniquely robust survivorship care team. “I think that we were chosen to be a part of this consortium because we have such strength in this area,” says Chen. “We have a wide variety of people with a breadth of experience who work in survivorship care – from physicians and nurse practioners to PhDs like Deb Mayer, who is a nationally recognized expert on survivorship care plans.”

ASAP USA is funded by Movember, in partnership with the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Movember is a global men’s health movement that involves men letting their moustaches grow each November as part of an effort to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues. UNC Lineberger is one of seven LIVESTRONG Foundation Survivorship Centers of Excellence.

In March, Dr. Chen attended the first ASAP USA meeting in Los Angeles, CA where the selected members compiled an initial list of interventions likely to have the most impact for prostate cancer survivors:

  1. Patient continuing care portal – a portal that collects patient reported outcomes data for use in developing better strategies to improve outcomes for men.
  2. Survivorship care plan/navigation – to develop a survivorship care plan and navigation guidelines specific to prostate cancer.
  3. Sexual recovery – a program to provide education and guidance for men regarding sexual rehabilitation following prostate cancer.
  4. Peer support network – provide peer social support for prostate cancer patients, their partners and caregivers.
  5. Community wellness – a mobile/web based platform that fosters healthy lifestyle coaching and tracking.
  6. Decision support – guidelines to prepare men for shared decision making regarding initial treatment and care options.

Members of the consortium are now working in teams to further develop these interventions along with measures to evaluate their effectiveness. Each intervention will be developed into a full proposal which will be submitted to Movember for review and funding. The consortium of 16 institutions plans to begin implementing the funded interventions toward the end of this year.

Movember is putting forth $10 million to fund ASAP USA’s study of the selected interventions over the next three to five years. After that time, Dr. Chen hopes to see the most effective interventions continue with additional funding from Movember.

Dr. Chen looks forward to the opportunities to advance survivorship research and care. “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. It is often diagnosed early, and men live many, many years following prostate cancer treatment. So it’s appropriate for the focus shift a bit toward enhancing survivorship.” UNC Lineberger and ASAP USA are working to push survivorship care to new level.