HealthDay News — Early-stage cancer survivors have concerns about receiving cancer-related follow-up care from primary care providers, researchers reported in Annals of Family Medicine.

Robert S. DiPaola, MD, from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, and colleagues conducted qualitative, semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 42 patients recruited from two National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers and six community hospitals. Participants were early-stage breast and prostate cancer survivors, aged 47 to 80 years, who were at least two years beyond completion of their active cancer treatment.

More than half of participants (52%) expressed a strong preference to receive follow-up care from their oncologist, the researchers found. Lack of cancer expertise, limited or no involvement with original cancer care, and lack of continuity of care were the top barriers participants perceived to primary care clinicians’ engagement in follow-up care.

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Yet despite existing apprehension, study data affirms cancer survivors want primary care clinicians to be familiar with their health issues, “especially [patients] with higher levels of education,” who “see some value in having primary care physicians engaged in their follow-up care,” the researchers wrote.

Among study participants, 38% believed that primary care providers had a role to play in cancer follow-up care. The top areas suitable for primary-care follow-up patients gave included performing routine cancer-screening tests, supplementing cancer and cancer-related specialist care, and providing follow-up medical care when “enough time has passed” or when survivors felt ready to reintegrate into the non-cancer population.

Future research and interventions should focus on addressing both patient and patient-perceived clinician knowledge gaps related to cancer follow-up care.

“Findings from this study support the need for primary care to engage meaningfully in the case management of our growing population of adult cancer survivors,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Hudson SV et al. Ann Fam Med. 2012;10(5):418-427.