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      Gynaecological cancer follow-up: national survey of current practice in the UK


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          To establish a baseline of national practice for follow-up after treatment for gynaecological cancer.


          Questionnaire survey.


          Gynaecological cancer centres and units.

          Geographical location



          Members of the British Gynaecological Cancer Society and the National Forum of Gynaecological Oncology Nurses.


          A questionnaire survey.

          Outcome measures

          To determine schedules of follow-up, who provides it and what routine testing is used for patients who have had previous gynaecological cancer.


          A total of 117 responses were obtained; 115 (98%) reported hospital scheduled regular follow-up appointments. Two involved general practitioners. Follow-up was augmented or replaced by telephone follow-up in 29 responses (25%) and patient-initiated appointments in 38 responses (32%). A total of 80 (68%) cancer specialists also offered combined follow-up clinics with other specialties. Clinical examinations for hospital-based follow-up were mainly performed by doctors (67% for scheduled regular appointments and 63% for patient-initiated appointments) while telephone follow-up was provided in the majority by nurses (76%). Most respondents (76/117 (65%)) provided routine tests, of which 66/76 (87%) reported carrying out surveillance tests for ovarian cancer, 35/76 (46%) for cervical cancer, 8/76 (11%) for vulval cancer and 7/76 (9%) for endometrial cancer. Patients were usually discharged after 5 years (82/117 (70%)), whereas three (3%) were discharged after 4 years, nine (8%) after three years and one (1%) after 2 years.


          Practice varied but most used a standard hospital-based protocol of appointments for 5 years and routine tests were performed usually for women with ovarian cancer. A minority utilised nurse-led or telephone follow-up. General practitioners were rarely involved in routine care. A randomised study comparing various models of follow-up could be considered.

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          Most cited references26

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          Follow-up after primary therapy for endometrial cancer: a systematic review.

          To determine the optimum follow-up of women who are clinically disease-free following potentially curative treatment for endometrial cancer. A systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library databases (1980 to October 2005) was conducted. Data were pooled across trials to determine overall estimates of recurrence patterns. Sixteen non-comparative retrospective studies were identified. The overall risk of recurrence was 13% for all patients and 3% or less for patients at low risk. Approximately 70% of all recurrences were symptomatic, and 68% to 100% of recurrences occurred within approximately the first 3 years of follow-up. No reliable differences in survival were detected between patients with symptomatic or asymptomatic recurrences nor were differences in patient outcomes reported by type of follow-up strategy employed. Detection of asymptomatic recurrences ranged from 5% to 33% of patients with physical examination, 0% to 4% with vaginal vault cytology, 0% to 14% with chest X-ray, 4% to 13% with abdominal ultrasound, 5% to 21% with abdominal/pelvic CT scan, and 15% in selected patients with CA 125. There is limited evidence to inform whether intensive follow-up schedules with multiple routine diagnostic interventions result in survival benefits any more or less than non-intensive follow-up schedules without multiple routine diagnostic interventions. Routine testing seems to be of limited benefit for patients at low risk of disease. Most recurrences tend to occur in high risk patients within 3 years, and most recurrences involve symptoms. The most appropriate follow-up strategy is likely one based upon the risk of recurrence and the natural history of the disease. Counseling on the potential symptoms of recurrence is extremely important because the majority of patients with recurrences were symptomatic. A proposed routine follow-up schedule is offered.
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            Posttreatment surveillance and diagnosis of recurrence in women with gynecologic malignancies: Society of Gynecologic Oncologists recommendations.

            Although gynecologic cancers account for only 10% of all new cancer cases in women, these cancers account for 20% of all female cancer survivors. Improvements in cancer care have resulted in almost 10 million cancer survivors, and this number is expected to grow. Therefore, determining the most cost-effective clinical surveillance for detection of recurrence is critical. Unfortunately, there has been a paucity of research in what are the most cost-effective strategies for surveillance once patients have achieved a complete response. Currently, most recommendations are based on retrospective studies and expert opinion. Taking a thorough history, performing a thorough examination, and educating cancer survivors about concerning symptoms is the most effective method for the detection of most gynecologic cancer recurrences. There is very little evidence that routine cytologic procedures or imaging improves the ability to detect gynecologic cancer recurrence at a stage that will impact cure or response rates to salvage therapy. This article will review the most recent data on surveillance for gynecologic cancer recurrence in women who have had a complete response to primary cancer therapy. Copyright © 2011 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Routine follow up of breast cancer in primary care: randomised trial.

              To assess the effect on time to diagnosis of recurrence and on quality of life of transferring primary responsibility for follow up of women with breast cancer in remission from hospital to general practice. Randomised controlled trial with 18 month follow up in which women received routine follow up either in hospital or in general practice. 296 women with breast cancer in remission receiving regular follow up care at district general hospitals in England. Time between first presentation of symptoms to confirmation of recurrence; quality of life measured by specific dimensions of the SF-36 schedule, the EORTC symptom scale, and hospital anxiety and depression scale. Most recurrences (18/26, 69%) presented as interval events, and almost half (7/16, 44%) of the recurrences in the hospital group presented first to general practice. The median time to hospital confirmation of recurrence was 21 days in the hospital group (range 1-376 days) and 22 days in the general practice group (range 4-64). The differences between groups in the change in SF-36 mean scores from baseline were small: -1.8 (95% confidence interval -7.2 to 3.5) for social functioning, 0.5 (-4.1 to 5.1) for mental health, and 0.6 (-3.6 to 4.8) for general health perception. The change from baseline in the mean depression score was higher in the general practice group at the mid-trial assessment (difference 0.6, 0.1 to 1.2) but there was no significant difference between groups in the anxiety score or the EORTC scales. General practice follow up of women with breast cancer in remission is not associated with increase in time to diagnosis, increase in anxiety, or deterioration in health related quality of life. Most recurrences are detected by women as interval events and present to the general practitioner, irrespective of continuing hospital follow up.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                23 July 2013
                : 3
                : 7
                : e002859
                [1 ]Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Bangor, Gwynedd, UK
                [2 ]School of Medical Sciences, Bangor University , Bangor, Gwynedd, UK
                [3 ]North Wales Organisation for Randomised Trials in Health, Bangor University , Bangor, Gwynedd, UK
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Simon Leeson; simon.leeson@ 123456wales.nhs.uk
                Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions

                This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

                : 9 March 2013
                : 8 June 2013
                : 14 June 2013



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