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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 12

of 'Approach to the patient following treatment for breast cancer'

Alternative methods of follow up in breast cancer: a systematic review of the literature.
Montgomery DA, Krupa K, Cooke TG
Br J Cancer. 2007;96(11):1625. Epub 2007 May 8.
Regular clinical follow up after breast cancer is a common practice. Evidence from retrospective reviews casts doubt on the efficacy of this practice and the various guidelines for follow up show little concordance. Our aim was to investigate what alternative follow-up methods (including reduced frequency of visits) have been subjected to controlled trial and to establish what evidence exists from controlled trials to advise the guidelines. The study involved systematic review of the literature using MEDLINE, Embase, CancerLit, Web of Sciences and EBM reviews as data sources. Methods included reviewing all randomised controlled trials comparing different follow-up frequencies or comparing an alternative method with clinical follow up after breast cancer. All outcome measures addressed in the trials were analysed. Two trials compared frequency of traditional follow up. Five trials assessed alternative methods. All were of inadequate power or duration to establish ideal frequency of clinic visits or safety of alternative follow-up methods. Alternative follow up had no detrimental effect on satisfaction or outcome. Few trials have been conducted, all of which are underpowered to establish safety of reducing or replacing clinic visits. Alternative methods of follow up are acceptable to patients and may be associated with other benefits. Larger trials arerequired.
University Department of Surgery, Level 2, Queen Elizabeth Building, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow G31 2ER, UK. davidandrewmontgomery@hotmail.com