The value of routine follow-up after treatment for head and neck cancer. A national survey from DAHANCA

Anja Pagh, Thomas Vedtofte, Charlotte Duch Lynggaard, Niclas Rubek, Matilde Lonka, Jørgen Johansen, Elo Verner Andersen, Claus Andrup Kristensen, Christian von Buchwald, Maria Andersen, Christian Godballe, Jens Overgaard, Cai Grau

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Background. The post-treatment follow-up is well-integrated in the oncologic care tradition, based on the risk of developing recurrent disease or new primary tumors in treated patients. Furthermore, follow-up serves as an opportunity to monitor treatment effects and to provide clinical care of side effects. In this study we measured the activity and effectiveness of routine follow-up in head and neck cancer and assessed the value of follow-up from the perspectives of both physicians and the patients. Patients and methods. During a period of six weeks a prospective national cross section cohort of 619 patients attending regular follow-up were enrolled. All patients had received intended curative treatment for head and neck cancer and all were followed according to DAHANCA guidelines. Data were collected by the physician filling in a registration form containing chosen key parameters and patients filling in a validated questionnaire. Results. The majority (91%) of the 619 visits was planned, and 75% of all visits included either tumor or treatment-related problems. Suspicion of recurrent disease led to further diagnostic work-up in 80 visits (13%). A total of 29 recurrences were found, and of these seven (25%) were asymptomatic, i.e. The "number needed to see" to detect one asymptomatic recurrence was 99. Treatment-related normal-tissue problems were addressed in 72% of all visits, and among these 18% required intervention. Although the majority of problems (either suspicion of recurrent disease or late effects) occurred within a few years after treatment, 39% of patients seen after three years also had problems. The majority of patients (97%) expressed satisfaction with the planned follow-up. Conclusion. Only few relapses are found in asymptomatic patients at routine follow-up, with one silent recurrence detected per 99 visits. However, head and neck cancer survivors have a substantial need for management of sequelae. In this context, a centralized routine follow-up may still be worthwhile.

TidsskriftActa Oncologica
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)277-284
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2013


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