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Millions of Euros could be saved if breast cancer follow-ups were led by specialist nurses
Date:4/18/2008

Berlin, Germany: Follow-up care for breast cancer patients costs less if it is conducted by nurses rather than physicians, yet there is no difference in the patients anxiety, depression, satisfaction or outcome, according to research presented today (Friday) at the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-6) in Berlin.

The study found that over a five-year period the cost of follow-up care was 630 per person per year for patients who saw a physician and 495 per person per year for those who saw specialist cancer nurses. Over a five-year period this made a difference of 866 per patient a modest saving per patient, but one that would enable substantial savings to be made in a countrys health budget as breast cancer is the most prevalent tumour worldwide.

Dr IngaLill Koinberg, who is both a nurse and medical doctor at the Department of Research and Development, Hospital Varberg and Kristianstad University, Sweden, said: These results showed that follow-up led by specialist nurses, with check-ups on demand, were 20% less expensive than routine follow-up visits to the physician. The main difference in cost between physician-led follow-up and nurse-led follow-up was explained by the number of visits to the physician. There were 21% more contacts with the physician in the physician group than in the nurse group.

Dr Koinberg and her colleagues randomised 264 breast cancer patients to two different follow-up groups in a prospective trial. Women in the physician group had routine medical follow-ups by a physician, involving four visits per year in the first two years, then examinations twice a year for up to five years, and annually thereafter. In the nurse group, patients saw a specialist nurse three months after the initial visit to the physician following radiotherapy. They were told how to recognise recurrence in the breast, skin, axillary nodes and scar tissue, and to telephone the nurse if they had any questions or symptoms of cancer
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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