Randomized trial of long-term follow-up for early-stage breast cancer: a comparison of family physician versus specialist care.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Multicenter Study)

PURPOSE: Most women with breast cancer are diagnosed at an early stage and more than 80% will be long-term survivors. Routine follow-up marks the transition from intensive treatment to survivorship. It is usual practice for routine follow-up to take place in specialist clinics. This study tested the hypothesis that follow-up by the patient's family physician is a safe and acceptable alternative to specialist follow-up. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A multicenter, randomized, controlled trial was conducted involving 968 patients with early-stage breast cancer who had completed adjuvant treatment, were disease free, and were between 9 and 15 months after diagnosis. Patients may have continued receiving adjuvant hormonal therapy. Patients were randomly allocated to follow-up in the cancer center according to usual practice (CC group) or follow-up from their own family physician (FP group). The primary outcome was the rate of recurrence-related serious clinical events (SCEs). The secondary outcome was health-related quality of life (HRQL). RESULTS: In the FP group, there were 54 recurrences (11.2%) and 29 deaths (6.0%). In the CC group, there were 64 recurrences (13.2%) and 30 deaths (6.2%). In the FP group, 17 patients (3.5%) compared with 18 patients (3.7%) in the CC group experienced an SCE (0.19% difference; 95% CI, -2.26% to 2.65%). No statistically significant differences (P < .05) were detected between groups on any of the HRQL questionnaires. CONCLUSION: Breast cancer patients can be offered follow-up by their family physician without concern that important recurrence-related SCEs will occur more frequently or that HRQL will be negatively affected.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Grunfeld, E; Levine, MN; Julian, JA; Coyle, D; Szechtman, B; Mirsky, D; Verma, S; Dent, S; Sawka, C; Pritchard, KI; Ginsburg, D; Wood, M; Whelan, T

Published Date

  • February 20, 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 848 - 855

PubMed ID

  • 16418496

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1527-7755

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1200/JCO.2005.03.2235


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States