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A population-based assessment of primary care visits during adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer


Background — We used administrative health data to explore the impact of primary care physician (pcp) visits on acute-care service utilization by women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer (ebc).

Methods — Our population-based retrospective cohort study examined pcp visits and acute-care use [defined as an emergency room (er) visit or hospitalization] by women diagnosed with ebc between 2007 and 2009 and treated with adjuvant chemotherapy. Multivariate regression analysis was used to identify the effect of pcp visits on the likelihood of experiencing an acute-care visit.

Results — Patients receiving chemotherapy visited a pcp significantly more frequently than they had before their diagnosis [relative risk (rr): 1.48; 95% confidence interval (ci): 1.44 to 1.53; p < 0.001] and significantly more frequently than control subjects without cancer (rr: 1.51; 95% ci: 1.46 to 1.57; p < 0.001). More than one third of pcp visits by chemotherapy patients were related to breast cancer or chemotherapy-related side effects. In adjusted multivariate analyses, the likelihood of experiencing an er visit or hospitalization increased in the days immediately after a pcp visit (rr: 1.92; 95% ci: 1.76 to 2.10; p < 0.001).

Conclusions — During chemotherapy treatment, patients visited their pcp more frequently than control subjects did, and they visited for reasons related to their breast cancer or to chemotherapy-related side effects. Visits to a pcp by patients receiving chemotherapy were associated with an increased frequency of er visits or hospitalizations in the days immediately after the pcp visit. Those results suggest an opportunity to institute measures for early detection and intervention in chemotherapy side effects.



Bastedo SJ, Krzyzanowska MK, Moineddin R, Yun L, Enright KA, Grunfeld E. Curr Oncol. 2017; 24(2):90-4. Epub 2017 Apr 27.

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Dr. Eva Grunfeld discusses her study on how women interact with their primary care providers during the period of adjuvant chemotherapy treatment for early-stage breast cancer.

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