Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doctors differ in how best to care for America's 12 million cancer survivors

Date:
July 25, 2011
Source:
Georgetown University Medical Center
Summary:
There are major differences between oncologists and primary care physicians regarding knowledge, attitudes, and practices required to care for America's 12 million cancer survivors. That is the key finding of the first nationally representative U.S. survey of doctors that reveals how these differences pose significant barriers to effective communication and coordination of care following initial cancer treatment.

There are major differences between oncologists and primary care physicians regarding knowledge, attitudes, and practices required to care for American's 12 million cancer survivors. That is the key finding of the first nationally representative survey of doctors that reveals how these differences pose significant barriers to effective communication and coordination of care following initial cancer treatment.

The study, published online July 25 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, included results of a survey of 1,072 primary cancer physicians (PCP) and 1,130 oncologists randomly sampled from among all U.S. practicing physicians during 2009.

The authors say the findings are of considerable concern, given the rapidly increasing cancer survivor population and looming shortages of both oncology specialists and primary care physicians who will be needed to provide care to this population. Because many individuals stop seeing their oncologist after the first few years following their initial cancer treatment, primary care doctors often assume a large share of providing care to survivors. Optimal cancer survivorship care includes not only surveillance for recurrence or second cancers, but also addressing the long-term and late medical effects of cancer or its treatment, providing psychosocial support, and managing other diseases or conditions.

Several factors may present challenges to ensuring a smooth transition for survivors as they move from initial acute care to post-treatment care, says the study's lead author, Arnold L Potosky, Ph.D., director of health services research at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of Georgetown University Medical Center.

"What the survey tells us is that many doctors, particularly primary care doctors don't have a high level of confidence in their own knowledge of some aspects of survivorship care, and many oncologists believe that PCPs are not adequately prepared to provide such care. We also see some evidence of knowledge deficits in both physician groups in terms of guideline-based care for survivors," he says.

"Although both oncologists and primary care doctors routinely recommended the use of several laboratory and imaging tests to detect cancer recurrence that are not part of guideline-directed care, more of the primary care physicians recommended these tests than did oncologists," Potosky says.

He says reasons for over-testing may include the practice of defensive medicine, reimbursement incentives for office-based lab testing, or uncertainty regarding best care practices. In some cases, such testing may also be influenced by survivors' requests.

The "Survey of Physicians Attitudes Regarding the Care of Cancer Survivors" asked both groups of doctors several questions about providing cancer survivorship care including the doctors' confidence in their knowledge about such care, and cancer surveillance practices.

In 2006, a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that patients completing primary treatment for cancer, and their primary care providers, be given a summary of their treatment and a comprehensive plan for follow-up.

Such a plan would inform patients (and their providers) of the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment, identify psychosocial support resources in their communities, and provide guidance on follow-up care, prevention, and health maintenance.

Julia Rowland, Ph.D., director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute and a co-author, says this study suggests several key insights regarding the implementation of the IOM's recommendations.

"More training and education on cancer survivorship is critical for the primary care physician and the oncologist," she says. "This might include identification of who may be best equipped to provide different aspects of care. Use of a survivorship care plan has the potential to serve as a valuable tool for helping to improve communication about as well as coordination of care between specialists and primary care physicians for survivors who are post-treatment."

The authors suggest that a cancer survivor, upon finishing treatment, meet with the treating oncologist to summarize the care received and outline appropriate follow-up care based on personal treatment history. They add that patients should find out what aspects of care to expect from the oncologist and the primary care physician respectively.

Funding for the Survey of Physicians Attitudes Regarding the Care of Cancer Survivors was provided by National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society. All the co-authors report no personal financial interests related to the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgetown University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arnold L. Potosky, Paul K. J. Han, Julia Rowland, Carrie N. Klabunde, Tenbroeck Smith, Noreen Aziz, Craig Earle, John Z. Ayanian, Patricia A. Ganz, Michael Stefanek. Differences Between Primary Care Physicians’ and Oncologists’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Regarding the Care of Cancer Survivors. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s11606-011-1808-4

Cite This Page:

Georgetown University Medical Center. "Doctors differ in how best to care for America's 12 million cancer survivors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725091720.htm>.
Georgetown University Medical Center. (2011, July 25). Doctors differ in how best to care for America's 12 million cancer survivors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725091720.htm
Georgetown University Medical Center. "Doctors differ in how best to care for America's 12 million cancer survivors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725091720.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Nigerian authorities have shut and quarantined a Lagos hospital where a Liberian man died of the Ebola virus, the first recorded case of the highly-infectious disease in Africa's most populous economy. David Pollard reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Newsy (July 29, 2014) According to a new study, just five minutes of running or jogging a day could add years to your life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Newsy (July 29, 2014) The Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses little threat to Americans, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins