Primary Care Versus Oncology-Based Surveillance Following Adjuvant Chemotherapy in Resected Pancreatic Cancer Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Introduction

    High level evidence to guide surveillance following curative intent treatment for pancreatic cancer is lacking and this has likely resulted in wide variations in practice. We aim to describe patterns of surveillance and evaluate their impact on outcomes.


    A total of 147 adult patients who received at least one cycle of adjuvant gemcitabine or 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy at any one of five British Columbia Cancer Agency centers between 2001 and 2015 were included. Surveillance strategies were classified into two categories: discharged to primary care physicians (PCPs) or follow-up at cancer centers (CC) that included regular clinical assessments, laboratory testing, and/or diagnostic imaging.


    Median age at diagnosis was 64 (range 38-85) years and 48% were men. More patients were followed by CC than by PCPs (66 vs. 44%). Among the measured prognostic factors, only patients with advanced tumor stage (T3/4) were more likely to be followed by cancer specialists (78 vs. 62%, P = 0.03), while other patient and disease characteristics were balanced between the two groups. In the entire cohort, 100 (68%) patients had a documented recurrence. Patients followed by CC were more likely to receive palliative chemotherapy at recurrence than those followed by PCPs (58 vs. 34%, respectively, P = 0.03). The median overall survival (OS) was 2.82 (95% CI 2.17-3.32) years in the CC group and 3.35 (95% CI 2.85-5.06) years in the PCP group while the median relapse-free survival (RFS) was 1.4 (95% CI 1.37-1.77) and 2.4 (95% CI 2.07-4.59) years, respectively. On multivariate analysis, there was no significant difference in OS between CC and PCP-based surveillance (HR 1.23; 95% CI 0.74-2.04, P = 0.40); however, RFS favored the PCP group (HR 1.62; 95% CI 1.01-2.56, P = 0.04, for the CC group).


    In this population-based analysis, surveillance tests and imaging performed by CC detected recurrences earlier when compared to follow-up by PCPs, but this did not result in OS differences. Patients with more advanced tumors were more likely to be seen at CC. PCPs may play a larger role in the follow-up care of selected low risk patients with resected pancreatic cancer.

publication date

  • December 2018

has subject area