Dr Claire Snyder and colleagues from Maryland, USA explored the mix of physician specialties that long-term survivors visit and how the mix relates to preventive care.
The researchers conducted a retrospective, longitudinal study of stage I to III Medicare fee-for-service colorectal cancer patients diagnosed in 1997.
The team used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database.
The research team examined physician visits and preventive care each year for 5 years, starting 366 days postdiagnosis.
|Survivor care by primary care providers only increased from 44% to 62%|
|Journal of Clinical Oncology|
In addition, the team investigated how preventive service receipt related to the physician mix seen, including primary care provider only, oncologist only, both, or neither.
A total of 1,541 patients met the eligibility criteria.
During 5 years, primary care provider visits increased from a mean of 4 to 5, and oncology visits decreased from 1 to 0.5.
Survivor care by primary care providers only increased from 44% to 62%.
However, the researchers noted that shared care by primary care providers and oncologists dropped from 37% to 21%.
Survivors who saw both primary care providers and oncologists were most likely to receive influenza vaccination, mammograms, and cervical cancer screening.
The team noted that survivors who saw primary care providers only were most likely to receive cholesterol screening and bone densitometry.
Higher socioeconomic status was associated with increased influenza vaccination, mammograms, and cervical cancer screening.
Over time, there was a decrease in mammography and cervical cancer screening and an increase in influenza vaccination.
Dr Snyder's team comments, "As oncologists become less involved in survivor care, cancer-related screening decreases significantly."
"These results support the need for survivorship care plans that explicitly outline the roles of primary care providers and oncologists in sharing care for cancer survivors, and how these roles may change over time."