With recent improvements in the early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, people with cancer are living longer, and their cancer may be managed as a chronic illness. Cancer as a chronic illness places new demands on patients and families to manage their own care, and it challenges old paradigms that oncology's work is done after treatment. As a chronic illness, however, cancer care occurs on a continuum that stretches from prevention to the end of life, with early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship in between. In this article, self-management interventions that enable patients and families to participate in managing their care along this continuum are reviewed. Randomized controlled trials of self-management interventions with cancer patients and families in the treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life phases of the cancer care continuum are reviewed, and the Chronic Care Model is presented as a model of care that oncology practices can use to enable and empower patients and families to engage in self-management. It is concluded that the need for a common language with which to speak about self-management and a common set of self-management actions for cancer care notwithstanding, oncology practices can now build strong relationships with their patients and formulate mutually agreed upon care plans that enable and empower patients to care for themselves in the way they prefer.
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