This trial examined the optimal setting for follow-up of patients after treatment for colon cancer by either general practitioners or surgeons. In all, 203 consenting patients who had undergone potentially curative treatment for colon cancer were randomised to follow-up by general practitioners or surgeons. Follow-up guidance recommended three monthly clinical review and annual faecal occult blood tests (FOBT) and were identical in both study arms. Primary outcome measures (measured at baseline, 12 and 24 months were (1) quality of life, SF-12; physical and mental component scores, (2) anxiety and depression: Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and (3) patient satisfaction: Patient Visit-Specific Questionnaire. Secondary outcomes (at 24 months) were: investigations, number and timing of recurrences and deaths. In all, 170 patients were available for follow-up at 12 months and 157 at 24 months. At 12 and 24 months there were no differences in scores for quality of life (physical component score, P=0.88 at 12 months; P=0.28 at 24 months: mental component score, P=0.51, P=0.47; adjusted), anxiety (P=0.72; P=0.11) depression (P=0.28; P=0.80) or patient satisfaction (P=0.06, 24 months). General practitioners ordered more FOBTs than surgeons (rate ratio 2.4, 95% CI 1.4-4.4), whereas more colonoscopies (rate ratio 0.7, 95% CI 0.5-1.0), and ultrasounds (rate ratio 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-1.0) were undertaken in the surgeon-led group. Results suggest similar recurrence, time to detection and death rates in each group. Colon cancer patients with follow-up led by surgeons or general practitioners experience similar outcomes, although patterns of investigation vary.
- colon cancer; follow-up; general practice; surgery; investigations; quality of life