Long-term follow-up of women with breast cancer: rationale for policy change.
AffiliationNational Cancer Control Programme, Kings Inns House, 200 Parnell St, Dublin, 1, Ireland, email@example.com.
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CitationLong-term follow-up of women with breast cancer: rationale for policy change. 2014: Ir J Med Sci
JournalIrish journal of medical science
AbstractThe number of breast cancer survivors in our ageing population continues to rise. Policy makers internationally are seeking to identify alternatives to follow-up care in an acute setting.
The National Cancer Control Programme set out to develop a new policy for long-term follow-up of breast cancer survivors in Ireland.
Policy development was informed by analysis of current attendances at breast surgical clinics for routine follow-up, extraction of the necessary components of follow-up from international guidelines and focus group research with Irish patients.
Intensive follow-up investigations, other than mammography, do not confer additional survival benefit or improved quality of life. Provision of routine follow-up care of breast cancer survivors by GPs has been shown to be equivalent to follow-up by specialist clinics, in terms of clinical outcomes, patient quality of life and patient satisfaction. In Ireland, routine follow-up accounted for 15.4 % (95 % CI: 13.8-17.0 %) of clinic appointments. A third were at least 5 years post-operative. Women highlighted issues such as attachment to specialist services, importance of communication and need for clarity as to where responsibility of care lies. Reassurance, confidence in the primary care practitioner, and coordination of multiple appointments were also identified as important issues.
A significant proportion of breast cancer survivors attending hospital surgical clinics for long-term follow-up could be safely discharged at 5 years, with the hospital maintaining responsibility for annual mammography. Successful implementation will depend on informed patients, clinicians' acceptance and communication between primary and secondary care.
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