PCPs, oncologists may need better communication on patient care

Most PCPs could not identify long-term effects of chemotherapy in cancer survivors

Just 6% of primary care physicians (PCPs) could identify the long-term effects of four common chemotherapy drugs, indicating potential communication gaps between primary care physicians and oncologists, according to a new study.

The Survey of Physician Attitudes Regarding the Care of Cancer Survivors (SPARCCS)—a joint project from the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society—asked 1,072 PCPs and 1,130 oncologists to identify the long-term effects of four standard chemotherapy drugs used in treating breast or colorectal cancer based on what they had observed or read about.

According to the survey of PCPs:

  • 51% could not recognize the long-term effects of Cyclophosphamide;
  • 64% could not recognize Doxorubicin;
  • 71% could not recognize Oxaliplatin; and
  • 56% could not recognize Paclitaxel.

Meanwhile, oncologists successfully identified long-term effects 65% of the time.

“While not surprising, these findings emphasize that in the transition of patients from oncology to primary care settings, PCPs should be informed about the [long-term effects] of cancer treatment,” according to the study, which will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting next month.

"There is a good case here for the benefits of electronic medical records. Electronic medical records with effective decision reports would allow primary care providers to access patients' cancer care and understand the ongoing monitoring needs,” according to ASCO President Michael Link (Bankhead, MedPage Today, 5/17).

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