Learn more about the benefits of registering on the new BJS website

Safety and cost‐effectiveness of shortening hospital follow‐up after breast cancer treatment. BJS 2012; 99: 1227-1233.

Published: 24th July 2012

Authors: W. Lu, M. J. W. Greuter, M. Schaapveld, K. M. Vermeulen, T. Wiggers, G. H. de Bock et al.


In the Netherlands, the first 5 years of follow‐up after treatment for breast cancer are carried out in hospital with yearly mammography. After this, for patients aged over 60 years who have undergone mastectomy, there is a shift of care to the National Screening Programme (NSP) for mammography every 2 years. After breast‐conserving therapy follow‐up is perfomed by the general practitioner (GP), with mammography every second year and physical examination annually. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical effects and costs of four different strategies for follow‐up after breast cancer treatment.


An extended and validated simulation model for breast cancer follow‐up was used. The current guidelines for follow‐up (baseline strategy) and three less intensive follow‐up strategies were evaluated. The main outcome measure was the detection rate of small tumours (2 cm or smaller) and associated costs for each strategy.


Shortening the follow‐up time in hospital by shifting care to the NSP or GP after 2 years instead of 5 years of hospital follow‐up, lowering the age of referral to the NSP or GP from 60 to 50 years, and termination of annual physical examination by the GP after hospital follow‐up did not decrease the detection of small tumours. In addition, a substantial decrease in costs was observed with simplified follow‐up.


Decreasing hospital follow‐up time, lowering the age of referral to the NSP or GP, and termination of annual physical examinations would lead to a substantial reduction in costs while maintaining the possibility of detecting small breast cancers. Copyright © 2012 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Full text

Your comments