Attitudes to Cancer Follow-up Care in General Practice

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Traditionally follow-up of cancer patients has occurred in secondary care. The rising incidence of cancer and the increasing number of survivors places increasing demands on oncology clinics. Colorectal and breast cancer survivors may continue to attend hospital-based follow-up appointments for many years after their active treatment has ceased, despite not necessarily requiring the expertise of a specialist oncology team for some aspects of their care. This is challenging an already stretched health care system and increasing costs.

Advances in medical treatment coupled with longer life-expectancy mean that many cancer patients live for many years after their initial diagnosis, leading to a need to reconsider the way that the health system addresses post-treatment cancer care. As patients continue to see their GPs after diagnosis and treatment, GPs are well situated to manage many aspects of cancer follow-up care long term and well as patients other co-morbidities.

What is the aim of this study?

This qualitative study aims to explore patient, general practitioner ("GP") and oncologist views regarding the feasibility and acceptability of transferring breast and/or colorectal cancer survivors with no current evidence of recurrence into the care of their GP rather than hospital-based clinics. 

Who are the participants in this study?

Patients who are attending follow-up consultations at the Prince of Wales Hospital Cancer Clinic, who have completed their active treatment for either breast or colorectal cancer, and have no evidence of disease reoccurrence, have been invited to participate.

Their GPs and hospital-based medical, radiation and surgical oncologists have also been asked to participate, which will provide unique linked data on patient, GP and specialist views on follow-up cancer care. Participation in this study is voluntary.

What does this study involve?

This study is a Translational Cancer Research Network research initiative and is supported by Cancer Institute NSW’s translational cancer research centre program grant.

It is undertaken by researchers at the Prince of Wales Hospital, UNSW Australia and the Translational Cancer Research Network Consumer Advisory Committee. This study has been approved by the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee.

The study is scheduled to complete in June 2016.

Principal investigator: Prof Mark Harris - TCRN & UNSW Australia

Co-investigators:

  • Prof David Weller - The University of Edinburgh
  • Prof Robyn Ward  -  UNSW Australia
  • Dr Melvin Chin - Prince of Wales Hospital
  • Dr Heike Schütze - TCRN 

Associate Investigator: Sue Suchy, TCRN Consumer Advisory Committee member