Evidence-based recommendations on care for breast cancer survivors for primary care providers: a review of evidence-based breast cancer guidelines

Inge Spronk, Joke C Korevaar, Francois G Schellevis, Tit Albreht, Jako S Burgers

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OBJECTIVE: To review evidence-based (EB) recommendations on survivorship care for primary care providers (PCPs) in EB breast cancer guidelines.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Guidelines were collected via experts and via literature database, guideline database and cancer agency websites searches.

METHOD: EB guidelines in any language published between 2012 and 2017 were collected. EB recommendations on survivorship care relevant for PCPs were extracted and grouped into three categories (recurrence detection, long-term effects and recurrence prevention). The content of the recommendations was analysed and summarised in the number and type of clinical topics addressed. The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II instrument was used to evaluate the methodological quality of the guidelines.

RESULTS: Six guidelines, of which two were of acceptable methodological quality, were included. One was specifically made for general practitioners. Fifteen clinical topics were identified. Guidelines differed in the clinical topics addressed and for some identical topics in the content of the recommendations. Many recommendations were based on low-quality evidence. Recurrence detection received most attention, physical examination and mammography were often highlighted. Potential complications largely varied in number and type. Intimacy concerns, vaginal dryness, dyspareunia, fatigue, menopausal symptoms, peripheral neuropathy and lymphedema were reported in more than one guideline. Recurrence prevention was mentioned in four guidelines; all recommended physical activity.

CONCLUSION: The number of EB recommendations in guidelines is limited. Moreover, recommendations differ between guidelines and most are based on low-quality evidence. More high-quality research is needed to develop and adapt guidelines to support PCPs in providing optimal breast cancer survivorship care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e015118
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2017


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