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Non-oncology physician visits after diagnosis of cancer in adolescents and young adults.

Heins, M.J., Lorenzi, M.F., Korevaar, J.C., McBride, M.L. Non-oncology physician visits after diagnosis of cancer in adolescents and young adults. Journal of Cancer Survivorship: 2016, 10(4), 783-788
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Purpose
Health care needs of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer are probably different from other age groups. Studying their non-oncology physician visits in the first years after diagnosis may provide insight into the specific health problems AYA patients experience and thereby help to improve care for these patients.

Methods
Seven hundred seventy-four AYAs identified from a Canadian provincial registry diagnosed with cancer between ages 15 and 24 years in 1991/2001 were included, matched by birth year and sex to ten controls. Based on provincial health insurance plan records, we determined the number of family physician and non-cancer specialist visits in the 5 years after diagnosis (for patients) or inclusion (for controls).

Results
The percentage of patients visiting a non-cancer specialist decreased from 96 to 49 % over the 5-year period. The percentage visiting a family physician decreased from 96 to 84 %. Visits in all years were significantly higher than among controls. In the first year after diagnosis, many patients visited a non-cancer specialist or a family physician for neoplasm-related health problems (77 and 55 %, respectively). In addition, family physicians were also consulted for general age-specific problems, such as genitourinary symptoms

Conclusions
In the first years after diagnosis of cancer in AYAs, both non-cancer specialist and family physician visits are common, although non-cancer specialist visits are less common and decline considerably faster than in younger children.

Implications for Cancer Survivors
The specific pattern of physician visits of this age group calls for care that is tailored to their specific needs. (aut. ref.)