Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 2015–2022 | Cite as

Breast cancer survivor’s perspectives on the role different providers play in follow-up care

  • J. L. Tucholka
  • N. Jacobson
  • N. M. Steffens
  • J. R. Schumacher
  • A. J. Tevaarwerk
  • B. Anderson
  • L. G. Wilke
  • C. C. Greenberg
  • Heather B. NeumanEmail author
Original Article



Significant variation in the number and types of oncologists that provide breast cancer follow-up exists. However, there is limited understanding regarding breast cancer survivors’ preferences for who provides their follow-up. Our objective was to explore breast cancer survivors’ perspectives on the goals of breast cancer follow-up, the preferred role for primary care providers, and the perceived roles of different types of oncologists during follow-up.


A convenience sample of stage 0–III breast cancer survivors was identified and in-depth one-on-one interviews conducted. Data were analyzed using inductive content analysis.


Survivors cited a strong preference for oncology-based follow-up within the first 5 years after diagnosis, driven by their need for reassurance that cancer had not recurred. Survivors also thought that their primary care provider needed to be involved. Survivors assumed that oncology follow-up was directed by a standard protocol that included streamlining the follow-up team. Survivors recognized that patients with more complex cancers or challenging treatment courses may require more intensive follow-up and deviate from the standard protocol. Most survivors were comfortable deferring decisions regarding who participated in follow-up to the oncology team.


Most patients think a streamlined approach to oncology-based breast cancer follow-up already occurs, driven by a standard protocol. The use of a standard protocol to provide guidance for which types of oncology providers should participate in breast cancer follow-up will streamline care and represents a significant opportunity to reduce unnecessary variation. This approach is especially critical given patients’ strong preferences for oncology-based follow-up.


Breast cancer Providers Follow-up care Survivorship Surveillance 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Tucholka
    • 1
  • N. Jacobson
    • 2
  • N. M. Steffens
    • 3
  • J. R. Schumacher
    • 1
  • A. J. Tevaarwerk
    • 4
    • 5
  • B. Anderson
    • 6
  • L. G. Wilke
    • 1
    • 4
  • C. C. Greenberg
    • 1
    • 4
  • Heather B. Neuman
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Wisconsin Surgical Outcomes Research Program, Department of SurgeryUniversity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA
  2. 2.School of Nursing, Institute for Clinical and Translational ResearchUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Denver Public HealthDenver Health and Hospital AuthorityDenverUSA
  4. 4.University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer CenterUniversity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and OncologyUniversity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Human OncologyUniversity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA

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