Survivors would rather see cancer specialists than PCPs

A small study indicates that adult cancer survivors have concerns regarding seeing their primary-care physician (PCP) for cancer-related follow-up care, and would rather receive such services from their cancer specialist.

Nearly one-third of office visits for cancer are handled by PCPs, pointed out Shawna V. Hudson, PhD, of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, and colleagues in their report for Annals of Family Medicine (2012;10[5]418-427). To explore survivor preferences, the team conducted in-depth interviews with 42 patients recruited from two cancer centers and six community hospitals. The interviewees, aged 47 to 80 years, were at least 2 years beyond completion of active treatment for early-stage breast cancer or prostate cancer.

Slightly more than half the respondents (52%) expressed strong preferences to receive follow-up care from their cancer specialists. They cited lack of cancer expertise, limited or no involvement with the person's original cancer care, and lack of care continuity as barriers to the PCP's engagement in follow-up care.

Only 38% of the respondents believed there was a role for primary-care clinicians in follow-up cancer care. They suggested the following opportunities:

  • Performing routine cancer-screening tests
  • Supplementing cancer and cancer-related specialist care
  • Providing follow-up medical care when “enough time had passed” or the survivors felt they could reintegrate into the noncancer population.

Hudson's team concluded that research interventions addressing the issues raised by the cancer survivors are needed to enhance the quality of care received by these patients.
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