“I think it’s essential that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”
A study looking at follow up care after treatment for bowel cancer
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This study looked at follow up care for people who’d had treatment for bowel cancer. This study was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Treatment for colorectal cancer (bowel cancer) is becoming more successful as new treatments are developed. This means that more people are going back to hospital for follow up appointments than ever before. The research team felt it was time to look at follow up services to see if they could be improved.
The research team wanted to see what people thought about the care they got after treatment, and if they had any issues with it. They also wanted to find out if people liked the idea of a nurse led clinic or telephone follow up, rather than the traditional appointments with a doctor.
The aim of this study were to
- Look at follow up care for people who have had treatment for bowel cancer
- See if they could improve follow up care
Summary of results
The research team found that people were mostly satisfied with their follow up care after treatment for bowel cancer. But there were some areas that could be improved.
First the research team interviewed 27 people to ask them what they thought about their follow up care. They found people felt they didn’t always get the right information. And that the psycho-social care wasn’t as good as they’d hoped. Patients didn’t get enough information about
- What to expect when they went home
- What was normal and what was not
- How to deal with a change in bowel function
- The best things to eat after surgery for bowel cancer
Some people contacted specialist nurses for advice, but not everyone felt able to do this.
The study team concluded that nurse led telephone clinics could be a good way to give more personalised information. This would also improve continuity of care, as the same specialist nurse could telephone patients each time they had an appointment.
The research team also sent out 297 questionnaires to people who had had treatment for bowel cancer. They were able to analyse 187 completed questionnaires.
The questionnaires asked people what they thought about things such as
- The care they had
- The information and advice they had been given
- The specialist nursing service
- Having a telephone follow up appointment with a specialist nurse
The research team found that people were often satisfied with the care and treatment they had. But they felt they didn’t get enough information about
- The genetic risk of bowel cancer
- How to look after themselves at home after their operation
- Sexual attractiveness
People rated the specialist nurses highly, and 2 out of 3 people (66%) said they would welcome telephone follow up appointments with a nurse.
The research team then recruited 65 people to be randomised to either telephone follow up or traditional hospital follow up. Patients in both groups were satisfied with their appointments. Telephone appointments were, on average, a bit longer than hospital appointments. And patients tended to raise more concerns during the telephone calls with a nurse.
The research team concluded that telephone appointments could be a useful way to follow up people who have had treatment for bowel cancer. But this needs to be looked at in a larger trial.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the study. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Prof Kinta Beaver
Cancer Research UK