May 2011


Follow up after breast cancer

Views of Australian women

Volume 40, No.5, May 2011 Pages 311-316

Meagan Brennan

Phyllis Butow

Andrew J Spillane

Michelle Marven

Frances M Boyle


Survivorship care after breast cancer treatment is increasingly complex as it aims to manage the long term effects of cancer and its treatment, including psychosocial needs. While survivorship care is traditionally delivered by surgeons and specialist oncologists in Australia, general practitioners are ideally placed to manage these issues.


This study explored the attitudes of 20 breast cancer survivors to GP involvement in follow up care through semi-structured telephone interviews, which were analysed using qualitative methods.


Women were reluctant to change from specialist based care but identified many potential benefits of GP involvement in long term cancer care. They expressed an interest in shared care programs between specialists and GPs. Some participants thought that additional training may be required if GPs were to deliver this care.


This study shows cautious interest from breast cancer survivors for increasing GP involvement in follow up care. These views should be considered as alternative models of care are developed.

Although the incidence of breast cancer is increasing, survival is improving. While the survival rate from breast cancer is high relative to other cancers (around 88% at 5 years in Australia1), women live with the life-long effects of the cancer, and its treatment, and these may adversely impact their quality of life.2–5

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