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Med Care. 2006 Jun;44(6):590-4.

Use of guideline recommended follow-up care in cancer survivors: routine or diagnostic indications?

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Division of Gastroenterology and Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-5066, USA.



After potentially curative cancer treatment, patients may receive procedures for routine monitoring for recurrence or for evaluation of symptoms or signs.


We sought to characterize surveillance care guideline-recommended and other procedures performed in cancer survivors according to routine versus diagnostic indications.


This was a retrospective cohort study of paper and electronic medical records between 1990 and 2000 from a large midwestern U.S. integrated health care delivery system of 500 patients who received curative treatment of breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung, or prostate cancer. Our measures were the indications for potential surveillance procedures as recommended by clinical practice guidelines or otherwise.


Among 14,670 procedures of interest received, 82.0% were performed for routine surveillance, whereas 10.6% were performed for diagnostic indications and 7.3% had indeterminate indications. Office visits most were often delivered for routine indications (91.6%), followed by guideline recommended tests for local recurrence (range 74.1-98.4%, depending on the specific test and cancer). In general, tests that were not recommended in established guidelines were for the purposes of detection of metastatic recurrence and were less often delivered for routine indications (overall frequency 59.2%, P<0.0001 compared with recommended testing).


Office visits and testing for local recurrence of cancer generally are performed for routine surveillance, regardless of recommendation by practice guidelines. Because procedures not recommended by practice guidelines were more often for diagnostic purposes, classification of patients as undergoing intensive surveillance may be misleading and may require record review to confirm.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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