Primary Care Provider and Your Cancer Care

After receiving a cancer diagnosis, you may be wondering who will take the lead on your healthcare. While your oncologist will manage your active cancer care and surveillance monitoring, they will also work closely with your primary care provider (PCP) to ensure all other medical needs are being met.

Just like your cancer care is being managed by a specialist (oncologist), your primary care provider is specially trained to manage various illnesses and injuries. It Is important that any existing conditions and preventative care continue to be monitored so that it doesn’t interfere with your cancer treatments.  

What Role Can I Expect My PCP to Have?

If you had a PCP prior to your cancer diagnosis, it is likely they were the ones who did all the testing necessary for work-up and made the referral to see an oncologist. If you don’t have a PCP, your oncologist may make a referral to ensure the rest of your health is being monitored.

Typically, your PCP can be involved in your care in the following ways: 

  • Routine labs, health screenings, and vaccines 

  • Continue to prescribe/manage any active medications outside of those for chemotherapy treatment 

  • Serve as an advocate/resource for any questions or concerns you may have regarding your cancer care or treatments 

  • Provide care for routine illnesses or conditions such as high blood pressure, thyroid issues, diabetes, flu, etc. 

  • Manage appropriate screenings (i.e. colonoscopy, mammography, heart disease) 

  • Provide psychosocial support and make appropriate referrals to specialists if needed 

  • Work with your oncologist to provide some assistance in symptom management 

  • Take over surveillance monitoring with the collaboration of your oncologist 

It may be helpful to have a PCP who is within the same hospital network as your oncologist. This can help facilitate your care by allowing access to medical records for both physicians. Be sure to communicate with your primary care team about all cancer treatments as this may affect how often you are seen by them. Ultimately, both your PCP and oncologist want to ensure you are receiving the best care possible and have the resources necessary to succeed.