UCLA-LIVESTRONG VITA Program: Restoring Life After Cancer

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UCLA LIVESTRONG Members United

You've made it through your treatments. You've survived cancer. What now?

The VITA Program at UCLA is one of the first clinical programs in the nation designed to meet the special health needs of cancer survivors.

Today, there are nearly 14 million cancer survivors in the United States. With advances in screening and treatment, they are living longer than ever before. But many cancer survivors find that, even after completing their treatments and being deemed disease-free, they still experience lingering effects of treatment or face new problems in adjusting to life after cancer.

Fatigue. Memory loss. Anxiety. Depression. Sexual dysfunction. Pain. These are just a few of the issues that cancer survivors commonly confront after treatment. And more often than not, these issues are overlooked in traditional, routine cancer follow-up care.

The VITA Program addresses these issues directly to enhance your follow-up care by offering:

  • Clinical consultations with our multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers and other specialists
  • Personalized evaluations and strategies designed to address your physical, psychosocial and emotional needs, along with any long-term and late effects of cancer treatment you may be having
  • Coordination of your care with your primary care doctor to maximize your overall health and well-being 

What is VITA?

VITA stands for Vital Information and Tailored Assessment.

We provide you with your own personal VITA, a survivorship care plan prepared by the VITA team. This plan summarizes your past cancer care and lays out an individualized, tailored roadmap for your future care.

Your personal VITA plan will be a short, easy-to-read document that will include:

  • Information on the specific nature of your cancer history
  • Details of the treatments you received
  • A personalized schedule of the screenings, tests and examinations you should have for effective monitoring of your health
  • Tailored wellness-enhancing strategies

We provide your personal VITA plan to your primary care doctor and store it electronically at UCLA for convenient access by you or your other physicians. This ensures the best follow-up and coordination of your care across all of your physicians. 

Is VITA Right for Me?

The VITA program is ideally suited for patients who have recently completed cancer treatment and are considered disease-free, but who also want to take charge of their future health or manage lingering symptoms. VITA can also be helpful to patients who had cancer many years ago, such as survivors of childhood cancer, and who may be unaware of the ongoing health risks posed by their past treatments. We provide consultations for survivors of all types of cancers.

The program is not meant to replace your regular care with your cancer specialist or primary care doctor. Rather, it enhances the quality of your routine follow-up care by adding the expertise of our VITA program clinicians. Their experience and knowledge in addressing the long-term and late effects of cancer treatment may be helpful to any cancer survivor who is still troubled by ongoing problems after treatment.

What are long-term and late effects?

Long-term effects are side effects that begin during cancer treatment and continue on after your treatment is completed. Some examples of long-term effects are cancer-related fatigue, pain and/or neuropathy and menopausal symptoms.

Late effects may appear a few months after your treatment is completed or several years later. Some examples of late effects are osteoporosis, second primary cancers, memory problems, anxiety and/or depression, lymphedema and kidney and liver problems.

What problems does VITA address?

The VITA team addresses what is known about the long-term and late effects of cancer treatment. Different cancer treatments are associated with different types of long-term and late effects, which is why it is important to understand your cancer treatment history.

Not all cancer survivors experience long-term or late effects. Talk to your health care provider about your cancer treatment history and the potential for long-term and late effects and what you can do to help minimize them.

To make an appointment, go to the Contact Us section below.

Meet the Team

The VITA program at UCLA is directed by Patricia A. Ganz, M.D. and Jacqueline Casillas, M.D., M.S.H.S., both of whom brings extensive experience in quality of care and health outcomes research related to cancer.

Patricia Ganz, M.D., is a pioneer in the assessment of quality of life in cancer patients and survivors, and is active in clinical trials research with the NRG Oncology Clinical Trials Group. At the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, she leads the scientific program focused on Patients and Survivors. She was a founding member of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) in 1986, and has directed the UCLA-LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center since 2006. In 1997 she established the UCLA Family Cancer Registry and Genetic Evaluation Program, which now clinically serves patients and survivors, who are at high risk for familial/hereditary cancers. Her major areas of research include cancer survivorship and late effects of cancer treatment, cancer in the elderly, and quality of care for cancer patients. She served on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee responsible for the 2005 report “From Cancer Patient to Survivor: Lost in Transition,” and on the 2008 IOM Committee for the report “Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs,” and chaired the 2013 IOM report and recommendations entitled “Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis.”

Jacqueline Casillas, M.D., M.S.H.S., is a pediatric oncologist and a health services researcher at UCLA whose area of interest is access to care, quality of life and quality of care for long-term survivors of childhood cancer. Dr. Casillas received her medical degree from UCLA and completed her residency and fellowship at UCLA-Harbor Medical Center. She is currently an assistant professor in pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine. Some of her current research projects include assessing access to care for adult survivors of childhood cancer in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study; assessment of health status, medical care and preventive health practices of Latino adult survivors of childhood cancer; and explaining psychosocial and quality of life outcomes in Latino long-term survivors of childhood cancer. Dr. Casillas is associate director of the UCLA-LIVESTRONG™ Survivorship Center of Excellence.

Contact Us

For more information about the VITA program, the services we offer or about the UCLA-LIVESTRONG™ Survivorship Center of Excellence, please call, email or send your request for additional information to:

Amy Jacobson, R.N., N.P.-B.C. 
Nurse Practioner
UCLA-LIVESTRONG™ Survivorship Center of Excellence
650 Charles Young Drive South, Room A2-125 CHS
Los Angeles, CA 90095-6900
Email: click here to contact
Telephone: (310) 794-7525
Fax: (310) 206-3566

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