The ‘cancer journey’ is synonymous for many individuals worldwide with frequent post-treatment hospital visits where the spectre of possible recurrence hangs over the consultation. This is a prospective analysis of 401 follow-up visits in Melbourne, Australia looking at follow-up in particular. In common with similar studies, patients seeking earlier review or reporting new symptoms have a higher rate of recurrence. Routine attendees without symptoms had a less than 1% incidence of recurrent disease, compared to 22% in those requesting an early appointment. Many hospitals lack the resources to provide urgent short notice review appointments on request, increased data such as this would suggest ‘ring fencing’ cancer patient drop in clinic slots could improve the overall patient pathway. The value of subjective reassurance through physical assessment cannot be under-estimated, yet rationalising or optimising follow-up is a key goal for head and neck surgeons involved in cancer care.

Head and neck cancer recurrence: a prospective analysis of 401 follow-up visits to an Australian cancer centre.
Stimpson P, Batt M, Vallance N.
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Andy Hall

FRCS (ORL-HNS), North Thames, ST7 Northwick Park Hospital, London, UK.

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