Evaluating the Age-Based Recommendations for Long-Term Follow-Up in Breast Cancer
AuthorWitteveen, A; de Munck, L; Groothuis-Oudshoorn, CGM; Sonke, GS; Poortmans, PM; Boersma, LJ; Smidt, ML; Vliegen, IMH; IJzerman, MJ; Siesling, S
Source TitleThe Oncologist
University of Melbourne Author/sIJzerman, Maarten
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsWitteveen, A., de Munck, L., Groothuis-Oudshoorn, C. G. M., Sonke, G. S., Poortmans, P. M., Boersma, L. J., Smidt, M. L., Vliegen, I. M. H., IJzerman, M. J. & Siesling, S. (2020). Evaluating the Age-Based Recommendations for Long-Term Follow-Up in Breast Cancer. ONCOLOGIST, 25 (9), pp.E1330-E1338. https://doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0973.
Access StatusOpen Access
BACKGROUND: After 5 years of annual follow-up following breast cancer, Dutch guidelines are age based: annual follow-up for women <60 years, 60-75 years biennial, and none for >75 years. We determined how the risk of recurrence corresponds to these consensus-based recommendations and to the risk of primary breast cancer in the general screening population. SUBJECTS, MATERIALS, AND METHODS: Women with early-stage breast cancer in 2003/2005 were selected from the Netherlands Cancer Registry (n = 18,568). Cumulative incidence functions were estimated for follow-up years 5-10 for locoregional recurrences (LRRs) and second primary tumors (SPs). Risks were compared with the screening population without history of breast cancer. Alternative cutoffs for age were determined by log-rank tests. RESULTS: The cumulative risk for LRR/SP was lower in women <60 years (5.9%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 5.3-6.6) who are under annual follow-up than for women 60-75 (6.3%, 95% CI 5.6-7.1) receiving biennial visits. All risks were higher than the 5-year risk of a primary tumor in the screening population (ranging from 1.4% to 1.9%). Age cutoffs <50, 50-69, and > 69 revealed better risk differentiation and would provide more risk-based schedules. Still, other factors, including systemic treatments, had an even greater impact on recurrence risks. CONCLUSION: The current consensus-based recommendations use suboptimal age cutoffs. The proposed alternative cutoffs will lead to a more balanced risk-based follow-up and thereby more efficient allocation of resources. However, more factors should be taken into account for truly individualizing follow-up based on risk for recurrence. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The current age-based recommendations for breast cancer follow-up after 5 years are suboptimal and do not reflect the actual risk of recurrent disease. This results in situations in which women with higher risks actually receive less follow-up than those with a lower risk of recurrence. Alternative cutoffs could be a start toward risk-based follow-up and thereby more efficient allocation of resources. However, age, or any single risk factor, is not able to capture the risk differences and therefore is not sufficient for determining follow-up. More risk factors should be taken into account for truly individualizing follow-up based on the risk for recurrence.
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