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Survivorship care after breast cancer: Follow-up practices of Australian health professionals and attitudes to a survivorship care plan

Authors


  • Conflicts of interest: none to declare.

Dr Meagan E Brennan BMed FRACGP FASBP, Patricia Ritchie Centre for Cancer Care and Research, Mater Hospital, Rocklands Road, North Sydney, NSW 2060, Australia. Email: m.brennan@usyd.edu.au

Abstract

Objective:  The increasing number of breast cancer survivors and the complexity of follow-up care make the provision of high-quality survivorship care a challenge. This study explored the follow-up practices of health professionals and their attitudes to alternative models such as shared care and the use of a survivorship care plan.

Methods:  Specialist oncologists (surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists) breast physicians and breast-care nurses completed an online survey.

Results:  A total of 217 practitioners completed the survey, which was estimated to include 42.8% of oncologists treating breast cancer in Australia. One-third of responding specialists reported spending more than 25% of their clinical time providing follow-up care. They reported many positive aspects to follow-up consultations and viewed follow-up care as an important part of their clinical role but expressed concern about the sustainability of follow-up care in their practices. The follow-up intervals and recommendations were in line with national guidelines. The specialists were supportive of sharing follow-up care with primary-care physicians, breast physicians and breast-care nurses. Most professionals felt that a survivorship care plan would improve care and said they would use a proforma.

Conclusion:  The oncologists felt that follow-up care was an important part of their role and they were supportive of the concepts of shared care programs and a survivorship care plan. Input from consumers is required to evaluate the acceptability of these alternative models and to assess ways of implementing these changes to work towards a more comprehensive and sustainable method of delivering survivorship care.

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