Adult cancer survivors discuss follow-up in primary care: 'Not what i want, but maybe what i need'

Shawna V. Hudson, Suzanne M. Miller, Jennifer Hemler, Jeanne M. Ferrante, Jennifer Lyle, Kevin C. Oeffinger, Robert S. Dipaola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Nearly one-third of office visits for cancer are handled by primary care physicians. Yet, few studies examine patient perspectives on these physicians' roles in their cancer follow-up care or their care preferences. METHODS We explored survivor preferences through qualitative, semistructured, in-depth interviews drawing on patients recruited from 2 National Cancer Institute- designated comprehensive cancer centers and 6 community hospitals. We recruited a purposive sample of early-stage breast and prostate cancer survivors aged 47 to 80 years, stratified by age, race, and length of time from and location of cancer treatment. Survivors were at least 2 years beyond completion of their active cancer treatment RESULTS Forty-two survivors participated in the study. Most participants expressed strong preferences to receive follow-up care from their cancer specialists (52%). They described the following barriers to the primary care physician's engagement in follow-up care: (1) lack of cancer expertise, (2) limited or no involvement with original cancer care, and (3) lack of care continuity. Only onethird of participants (38%) believed there was a role for primary care in cancer follow-up care and suggested the following opportunities: (1) performing routine cancer-screening tests, (2) supplementing cancer and cancer-related specialist care, and (3) providing follow-up medical care when "enough time has passed" or the survivors felt that they could reintegrate into the noncancer population. CONCLUSION Survivors have concerns about seeing their primary care physician for cancer-related follow-up care. Research interventions to address these issues are necessary to enhance the quality of care received by cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-427
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Family Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding support: This research was supported through grants from the National Cancer Institute (K01 CA131500 and R03 CA154063) and the Department of Defense (DAMD17-01-1-0755). It was conducted in conjunction with the Cancer Institute of New Jersey Partner and Affiliate Research Network and the Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners. It was also supported by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey's Survey Research and Qualitative Methods Shared Resource (P30CA072720) and Fox Chase's Behavioral Research Core Facility.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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