New research suggests there’s a mismatch between the type of doctors cancer survivors say they prefer for on-going cancer care and who they actually see. An American Cancer Society (ACS) study showed that most cancer survivors preferred their primary care physician (PCP) and cancer doctor (oncologist) to share their on-going cancer care and for their PCPs to take charge of their preventive health care and management of chronic health conditions. But in the last 4 years, only 60% of survivors had seen a cancer doctor, while 96% had seen a PCP. The authors suggest health systems may address this disconnect by trying to make it easier for these doctors to work together, and doctors can help patients feel more comfortable with on-going cancer care from a PCP.
The researchers used data from the American Cancer Society’s Study of Cancer Survivors-I (SCS-1), a long questionnaire answered by about 3,000 cancer-free survivors around 9 years after their diagnosis.
Part of the questionnaire asked cancer survivors whether they preferred their cancer doctor (medical, surgical, or radiation oncologist) or their primary care doctor (family doctor, general internist, or noncancer specialist) to lead their care, or share it, for four types of care. Most long-term cancer survivors preferred that their PCPs and oncologists share care for follow-up (63%) and screening for new cancers (65%). The majority preferred a PCP to lead preventive care (77%) and management of chronic or comorbid conditions (83%). However, only 42% of cancer survivors said they had seen a cancer doctor in the last year. In comparison, 87% said they had seen a primary care physician.
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Featured image credit: American Cancer Society.