Oncologists’ Perspectives of Their Roles and Responsibilities During Multi-disciplinary Breast Cancer Follow-Up

Heather B. Neuman, Nicole M. Steffens, Nora Jacobson, Amye Tevaarwerk, Bethany Anderson, Lee G. Wilke, Caprice C. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Improving the quality of follow-up provided to the 3 million U.S. breast cancer survivors is a high priority. Current guidelines do not provide guidance regarding who should participate in follow-up or what providers’ specific responsibilities should be. Given the multidisciplinary nature of breast cancer care, this results in significant variation and creates the potential for redundancy and/or gaps. Our objective was to provide insight into why different types of oncologists believe their participation in follow-up is necessary. Methods: A purposeful sample of breast medical, radiation, and surgical oncologists was identified (n = 35) and in-depth one-on-one interviews were conducted. Data were analyzed using content analysis. Results: Medical oncologists were driven by a sense of Responsibility for Ongoing Therapy, perceived Strong Patient Relationship, and belief that their systemic approach to follow-up represented a Specific Skillset beneficial to patients. In contrast, surgical and radiation oncologists were selective about which patients they followed, participating when they perceived their Specific Skillset of enhanced local–regional assessments would be valuable. Additionally, they endorsed participating to Ensure Follow-up is Received or not participating to Minimize Redundancy. These individual decisions led to either a Complementary Oncologist Team or Primary Oncologist follow-up approach. Conclusions: Oncologists’ feel responsible for the cancer-related components of follow-up. Differences amongst oncology specialists’ perceived responsibilities influenced decisions to provide ongoing follow-up. Based on these individual decisions, a Complementary Oncologist Team or Primary Oncologist model of care evolves organically. Guidelines that explicitly direct patients into a care model have the potential to significantly improve care quality and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-714
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of surgical oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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