More Canadians are surviving cancer than ever before. Although the outcome for people who develop cancer can vary considerably from one type of cancer to another, almost two-thirds (65%) of Canadians diagnosed with cancer can expect to live five years or more after diagnosis. This is particularly true of breast and prostate cancers, for which the 5-year net survival rate is estimated at 88% and 93% respectively. These relatively favorable results for certain cancers are encouraging, and are largely attributable to efforts in cancer prevention, screening, early detection and treatment. Despite survival gains, cancer survivors face enormous challenges related to their disease and treatments when they enter remission. Numerous data show that current models of care do not meet the needs of cancer survivors. Personalized cancer care based on patient risk has been proposed by many professional organizations as a model of care to help solve this problem. This model assumes that some cancer patients have complex health problems that require ongoing, high-intensity care from specialized cancer teams, while the medical needs of others could be met with minimal specialist involvement. In this way, cancer survivors are assigned to different follow-up care pathways according to their risk of recurrence, death and treatment-related toxicities. However, it is not yet clear whether this model could be implemented in the current healthcare system. We also need to hear the views of cancer survivors and healthcare professionals on this model of care.
The aim of our research is to help fill this knowledge gap. First, using data routinely collected from over 13,000 breast cancer patients treated at the Centre des maladies du sein du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, our multidisciplinary team of researchers, physicians and patient-partners will identify important factors to consider in developing this model of care. Secondly, we will convene a panel of experts to define personalized follow-up care pathways for breast cancer survivors. Finally, the views of these patients and healthcare professionals on the model will be gathered in focus groups. The results of the present research will provide valuable information on the feasibility and acceptability of this personalized follow-up care model, which is a prerequisite for any attempt to implement it in clinical practice.