Family Doctors Can Follow Childhood Cancer Survivors

February 18, 2008

In adult survivors of childhood cancers, a shared-care program involving pediatric oncologists and family doctors may be appropriate for long-term follow-up, according to the results of a pilot study published online Feb. 18 in The Lancet Oncology.

MONDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- In adult survivors of childhood cancers, a shared-care program involving pediatric oncologists and family doctors may be appropriate for long-term follow-up, according to the results of a pilot study published online Feb. 18 in The Lancet Oncology.

Ria Blaauwbroek, M.D., of the University of Groningen in Groningen, the Netherlands, and colleagues randomly selected 133 adult survivors out of a pool of 210 enrollees to participate in a three-year study that included physical and clinical assessments by an on-site family doctor at the long-term follow-up clinic at the University Medical Centre Groningen, and subsequent assessments by local family doctors.

The researchers found that 123 (92 percent) of the adult survivors and 115 of 117 (98 percent) of their family doctors opted to participate in the shared-care program. They also found that 103 (90 percent) of the family doctors returned questionnaires to the long-term follow-up clinic after their second assessment. Satisfaction rates were high among survivors and their family doctors (88 percent and 82 percent, respectively).

"Family doctors already have the skills to screen patients at increased risk of developing health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease," the authors write. "With easy ways to communicate with long-term follow-up clinics and the availability of guidelines, they should also be able to screen adult survivors of childhood cancer. We wish to emphasize that the success of a shared-care model depends on a key coordinator, who could be an academic family doctor with an interest in late effects (as used in this study), a nurse practitioner or a dedicated nurse."

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