Follow-up after oral cancer treatment : transition to a personalized approach
until further notice
SourceJournal of Oral Pathology & Medicine, 50, 5, (2021), pp. 429-434
Article / Letter to editor
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Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine
SubjectRadboudumc 17: Women's cancers RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 9: Rare cancers RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: Guidelines for follow-up after oral cancer treatment are not site-specific and encompass the entire head and neck area rather than the oral cavity alone. This one-size-fits-all protocol disregards the differences in aetiology, treatment and differential distribution of new disease between the subsites. With the effectiveness of follow-up in early detection of new disease being put into question, the focus of follow-up programmes might shift to other aspects of survivorship care. Personalization of follow-up is important, considering patient-specific features and needs. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic urges us to rethink our follow-up practice. FINDINGS: This paper discusses ways in which routine follow-up in patients treated for oral cancer can be optimized. Patients with a high risk of new disease might benefit from an intensified follow-up regimen, whilst patients with a low risk of new disease, a low chance of cure or limited life expectancy could benefit from a de-intensified follow-up regimen. The latter could include a shorter follow-up period and focus on goals other than early detection of new disease. Education of patients to report new symptoms early is of vital importance as the majority of new disease presents symptomatically. Other health care professionals such as specialist nurses and dentists need to play an important leading role in survivorship care. Remote consultations may be useful to perform more efficient and patient-centred follow-up care. CONCLUSION: Routine follow-up needs to be seen as an integrated part of an individualized survivorship plan that is provided by the entire multidisciplinary team.
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