Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 713–729 | Cite as

Interventions to improve adherence to surveillance guidelines in survivors of childhood cancer: a systematic review

  • Veda Zabih
  • Alyssa Kahane
  • Natalya E. O’Neill
  • Noah Ivers
  • Paul C. NathanEmail author



Many survivors of childhood cancer are at high risk of late effects of their cancer therapy, including cardiac toxicity and subsequent malignant neoplasms (SMN). Current North American guidelines recommend periodic surveillance for these late effects. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to estimate rates of adherence to recommended surveillance and summarize studies evaluating interventions intended to increase adherence.


We searched MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) for articles published between January 2000 and September 2018 that reported adherence to surveillance for cardiac toxicity and SMN (breast and colorectal cancer) and interventions implemented to improve completion of recommended testing. Risk of bias was assessed using relevant Cochrane checklists. Due to heterogeneity and overlapping study populations, we used narrative synthesis to summarize the findings. This review was registered in PROSPERO: CRD42018098878.


Thirteen studies met our inclusion criteria for assessing adherence to surveillance, while five assessed interventions to improve rates of surveillance. No studies met criteria for low risk of bias. Completion of recommended surveillance was lowest for colorectal cancer screening (11.5–30.0%) followed by cardiomyopathy (22.3–48.1%) and breast cancer (37.0–56.5%). Factors such as patient-provider communication, engagement with the health care system, and receipt of information were consistently reported to be associated with higher rates of surveillance. Of five randomized controlled trials aimed at improving surveillance, only two significantly increase completion of recommended testing—one for echocardiography and one for mammography. Both involved telephone outreach to encourage and facilitate these tests.


The majority of childhood cancer survivors at high risk of cardiac toxicity or SMN do not receive evidence-based surveillance. There is paucity of rigorous studies evaluating interventions to increase surveillance in this population.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Robust trials are needed to assess whether tailored interventions, designed based on unique characteristics and needs of each survivor population, could improve adherence.


Childhood cancer Survivorship Screening Late effects of cancer treatment 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11764_2019_790_MOESM1_ESM.docx (84 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 84 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veda Zabih
    • 1
  • Alyssa Kahane
    • 2
  • Natalya E. O’Neill
    • 3
  • Noah Ivers
    • 4
    • 5
  • Paul C. Nathan
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Hematology/OncologyThe Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of Family and Community MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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