Breast Cancer Survivors Prefer Oncologist Follow-Up

Most are also reasonably comfortable with PCP and NP follow-up, but not with virtual visits

MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- In breast cancer survivors participating in a survivorship study, follow-up visits with an oncologist as compared to other types of clinicians are perceived to minimize stress around the visit, decrease worrying about cancer, and improve the self-perceived impact of follow-up visits on cancer survival, according to research published online Dec. 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Erica L. Mayer, M.D., M.P.H., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 218 breast cancer survivors (median age, 57.5 years) who participated in a general survivorship study and completed an extra breast cancer-specific questionnaire. The purpose of the study was to determine survivors' comfort with different clinician types and telephone/Internet-based virtual visits as components of survivorship care. Perceptions of the impact of follow-up visits on survival, level of worry about cancer, and stress related to the visit were evaluated for each clinician type and for virtual visits.

According to the researchers, most responders favored follow-up visits with oncologists over primary care physicians (PCPs) or nurse practitioners (NPs), with reduced worrying about cancer (odds ratio [OR], 2.21; P < 0.001) and stress around the visit (OR, 1.40; P = 0.002) as well as a perceived increase in the effect on cancer survival (OR, 2.38; P < 0.001). Most responders were at least comfortable in the same parameters with PCP and NP follow-up but they perceived virtual visits to have a less favorable impact on cancer survival and to be associated with increased cancer worry.

"Breast cancer survivors are comfortable with both PCPs and NPs providing follow-up care, although they indicate a preference for medical oncologists. Given patients' negative impressions of a virtual visit, increased familiarity with and research investigating this emerging concept are needed. The NP-led survivorship clinic model, with increased guidance for PCPs, offers a promising route for improving quality of and satisfaction with survivor care," the authors write.

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