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CMAJ. 1997 Oct 1;157(7):879-86.

Costs and benefits of routine follow-up after curative treatment for endometrial cancer.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Ottawa, Ont.

Erratum in

  • CMAJ 1998 Jan 13;158(1):26.



To examine the costs of routine outpatient follow-up after curative treatment of endometrial cancer, and to determine whether this leads to early detection of recurrence or survival. The impact of specific disease characteristics on survival is examined.


Retrospective chart review, and calculation of costs.


Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre-Civic Division (ORCC-C).


All 432 patients referred to the ORCC-C with endometrial cancer between 1982 and 1991 who received treatment with curative intent and who continued with routine follow-up.


Cancer recurred in 50 patients (11.57%). There was no statistically significant difference in overall survival between patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic recurrences, or between those with recurrences detected during routine follow-up visits or in the interval between routine visits. Of 4830 Papanicolaou (Pap) smears performed routinely, cancer was detected in 6 cases. The mean cost of the routine follow-up procedures for each patient with a recurrence was $19,200.


Intensive follow-up of women with endometrial cancer does not result in improved survival. A prospective randomized study is warranted to evaluate other potential benefits of follow-up, such as improved quality of life or decreased morbidity. There is no economic or clinical justification for the routine use of the Pap smear in the follow-up of patients with endometrial cancer. The potential benefits of routine follow-up in endometrial cancer and other types of cancer with favourable prognoses warrant critical evaluation.

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