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Many Primary Care Docs Don't Know Long-Term Effects of Chemo: Survey
Date:5/16/2012

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Many primary care doctors don't know the long-term side effects of the chemotherapy treatments that cancer survivors under their care may have been given, a new survey found.

On the other hand, most oncologists -- though not all -- are familiar with the side effects of four common treatments used to treat breast and colon cancer, according to the results of the survey being presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.

"While oncologists commonly identify the main late effects of four common cancer drugs, primary care providers did not," study author Dr. Larissa Nekhlyudov said during a Wednesday news conference. "This is not surprising in that primary care providers have different training and exposure to chemotherapy drugs," she noted.

"However, these findings emphasize that in the transition of patients from oncology to primary care settings, primary care providers should be informed of late effects of cancer treatments so they are better prepared to recognize and address these effects," added Nekhlyudov, who is an assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Advances in cancer treatment have pushed the number of cancer survivors in the United States from 3 million in the 1970s to 12 million today.

Once cancer treatments -- such as chemotherapy or radiation -- are complete, primary care physicians become a critical part of continuing care for cancer survivors.

The new findings are based on a 2009 survey of more than 1,100 primary care doctors and more than 1,100 oncologists (doctors who specialize in cancer) across the United States.

Both types of doctors were asked to identify side effects of four commonly used chemotherapy drugs for breast and colon cancer: Adriamycin (doxorubicin); Eloxatin (oxaliplatin); Cytoxan (cyclophosp
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