Life after cancer: Transforming the post-treatment experience

Cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment get most of the attention — and for good reason. They’re the key to saving lives. But what happens after treatment ends and the routine appointments stop? With more people living longer after their cancer diagnosis, understanding and meeting their ongoing challenges and needs is critical to helping them lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Recognizing the growing importance of survivorship within the cancer continuum, the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer has been supporting the survivorship initiatives of organizations across Canada since 2007 and it remains a focus in the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. By leveraging our pan-Canadian reach and relationships, the Partnership continues to catalyze and inspire even more projects and research to transform the survivorship experience for more people across Canada.

Why aren’t we using the term cancer survivor?

While the term “survivorship” is used in some instances throughout the website, to be more person-centred and inclusive in the language we use, we have opted to use “people living with cancer” rather than “cancer survivors” to describe individuals who have transitioned from the active treatment phase of their cancer journey back into the primary care or community care system.

Addressing the full range of challenges

Two-thirds of those living with cancer report difficulties after treatment, particularly during the first six months to one year.1 Our partners are addressing their unmet needs in three areas:

Physical challenges- survivorship

Physical challenges

From prolonged fatigue to changes in sexual function and fertility, many people face physical symptoms that can persist long after cancer treatment has ended.

Emotional and mental health- survivorship

Emotional and mental health challenges

The fear of cancer coming back can dominate a person’s thoughts, leading to anxiety, depression and other challenges — but few seek help for their concerns.

Practical challenges- survivorship

Practical challenges

Navigating day-to-day life when cancer treatment is over can be difficult, with many people struggling to return to work, school and other daily routines.

Understanding the experiences of people living with cancer across Canada

The first national survey of its kind, the Experiences of Cancer Patients in Transitions Study asked 13,000 people about their challenges and needs after completing speciality cancer care. Led by the Partnership and conducted in 2016 in collaboration with all 10 provinces, its findings revealed gaps and barriers that have since shaped the survivorship strategies and initiatives of organizations across the country — including those profiled on this site.

Exploring the needs of different kinds of people living with cancer

The challenges faced by people living with cancer are amplified for those from diverse and equity-denied populations. With our funding and support, our partners are improving access to the services and resources they need.


Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) living with cancer often straddle the line between the pediatric and adult care systems, leading to challenges in continuity of care.

Native American family playing together on a soccer field

First Nations, Inuit and Métis living with cancer have the right to Peoples-specific, self-determined care, drawing on their strengths and priorities to navigate challenges.

Researchers- survivorship

More studies by researchers across Canada are needed to improve our understanding of the needs and priorities of people living with cancer from specific populations.

All communities deserve appropriate, timely, high-quality care

There are many equity-denied populations that face additional challenges during their cancer journeys, including survivorship. The Canadian Cancer Society’s Advancing Health Equity Through Cancer Information and Support Services report, published in October 2023 with Partnership funding, identifies 10 underserved communities, including 2SLGBTQIA+, racialized communities, newcomers to Canada, and rural and remote communities. It examines the gaps and barriers they face in accessing care and makes five recommendations to guide community engagement strategies.

  1. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Living with cancer: A report on the cancer experience [Internet]. The Partnership; 2018 [cited 2024 Jan 25]. Available from: