The important role of general practice in the care of cancer survivors

In Australia, the number of people living with or beyond cancer (defined as ‘cancer survivors’) is increasing due to population ageing, increased cancer detection and improved treatments. Cancer survivors face a range of challenges including physical, psychological, relationship, and employment issues. These issues are present many years post-treatment, akin to chronic diseases, which requires chronic disease management jointly with other comorbidities often seen in cancer patients. Yet, current models of post-treatment care tend to be oncology-led and focus solely on surveillance for cancer recurrence. Such model fails to address holistic care, further discredited by growing evidence that oncologist-led care can be sub-optimal, which prompted discussions around GP-led follow up and shared care. Previous trials testing models of either shared care or direct transfer of follow-up to the GP have shown that cancer survivors can be safely and effectively managed by GPs. This demonstrates that GP-led follow-up and shared care models offer promise of more holistic, coordinated, and accessible care. Going forth, primary care providers should have a greater role in the management of survivors.

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