Follow-up Guidelines Needed for Young Adult Cancer Survivors

Many young adult (YA) cancer survivors are unaware of potential long-term adverse effects of cancer therapies and of the necessity of follow-up care, according to a focus group of survivors aged between 18 and 39 years.
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These results suggest the need for specific clinical guidelines for follow-up care in this population.

YA cancer survivors face an increased risk for long-term and late-term adverse events arising from anticancer therapies. Yet, they regularly receive insufficient follow-up care, largely due to a lack of standardized guidelines.

In order to determine the average level of follow-up care in this patient population, Lynda M Beaupin, MD, assistant professor of oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY), and colleagues conducted two focus groups comprised of 27 YA survivors. 

Participants answered written questionnaires and were presented with treatment summaries based on information gleaned from electronic medical records. These summaries enumerated the potential long-term and late-term effects associated with their treatments.

In total, 78% of participants found their treatment summaries to be accurate, and 44% reported learning of potential adverse events for the first time.

Questionnaire responses revealed a host of reasons for the lack adequate follow-up care in this patient population, including insurance status, communication issues with medical providers, and difficulties adjusting to life after treatment. 

“Initial feedback…indicates that YAs seek additional information of long/late-term side effects, roadmap for follow-up visits, and information on psychosocial support and YA-specific resources,” Dr Beaupin said. “Despite great strides made in survivors of childhood cancer, the same cannot be said for young adult survivors.”