Ovarian cancer treatment: The benefit of patient telephone follow-up post-chemotherapy

Dale F. Kelly, Wylam J. Faught, Laurie Ann Holmes


Approximately 2,500 women in Canada were diagnosed with cancer of the ovary in 1997 (NCIC, 1997). Standard therapy consists of surgical tumour debulking and cytotoxic chemotherapy. Very little data are available examining the most appropriate outpatient management of patients receiving chemotherapy. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of and benefit received from telephone follow-up between chemotherapy treatments for patients with cancer of the ovary.

Patients with cancer of the ovary were treated every three to four weeks with a cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Telephone follow-up was performed five to seven days post-treatment by the gynaecology oncology liaison nurse. Follow-up addressed issues pertinent to treatment and disease side effects. A patient survey addressing the impact of telephone follow-up was performed on a sample of the patient population. Thirty-one patients responded to the survey. Eighty-seven per cent found that receiving a call postchemotherapy was reassuring and helpful. Eighty-three per cent stated that medications could be adjusted according to the severity of side effects. Eighty per cent of patients agreed that most issues had been dealt with at the time of telephone follow-up. Sixty-four per cent felt that their concerns had been addressed during the phone calls, and only 22% had suggestions on how to improve follow-up.

Telephone follow-up during chemotherapy was a valuable tool in assessing patient needs, side effects, and concerns experienced during treatments. Telephone follow-up may facilitate early identification of patient problems allowing appropriate and timely intervention.

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