Patient Preferences for Oncologist and Primary Care Provider Roles After Initial Breast Cancer Treatment


Key Points

  • More women preferred oncologist-led screening for other cancers after initial breast cancer treatment.
  • Patients with high primary care physician involvement in initial cancer treatment were less likely to prefer oncologist-led screening for other cancers.

In a study reported in the Journal of Oncology Practice, Radhakrishnan et al found that the level of involvement of medical oncologists and primary care physicians during initial cancer care in women with early-stage breast cancer affected patients’ preference for provider roles after initial treatment.

The study involved a survey at approximately 2 months after definitive surgery among 3,930 women who received a diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer in 2014 to 2015 identified from the Georgia and Los Angeles County Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registries. A total of 2,502 responded, for a total response rate of 68%. Women reported the level of their providers’ involvement in care during initial cancer treatment and preference for oncologist- vs primary care physician–led screenings for other cancers after initial treatment.

Patient Preferences

During initial cancer treatment, 20% of women reported that their medical oncologists participated substantially in delivering primary care, and 66% reported primary care physicians were highly engaged in their cancer care. Overall, 66% of women reported a preference for medical oncologists to lead other cancer screenings after initial treatment, with 34% preferring primary care physician–led care.

Patients who reported substantial medical oncologist participation in primary care were more likely (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] =1.05–1.91) to prefer oncologist-led screenings for other cancers after initial treatment, whereas those who reported high levels of primary care physician engagement in cancer care were less likely (adjusted OR = 0.41, 95% CI = 0.31–0.53) to prefer oncologist-led screenings for other cancers. The proportions preferring oncologist-led screenings were 59% with high primary care physician engagement vs 79% with low primary care physician engagement. Overall, 95% and 96% of women preferred primary care physician–led care for general preventive care and comorbidity care.

The investigators concluded, “Providers’ involvement during initial cancer treatment may affect patient preferences regarding provision of follow-up primary care. Clarifying provider roles as early as during cancer treatment may help to better delineate their roles throughout survivorship.”

Archana Radhakrishnan, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is the corresponding author for the Journal of Oncology Practice article.

Disclosure: The study authors' full disclosures can be found at

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.