Is it feasible to follow-up testicular germ-cell tumour patients in Sussex via the telephone?


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Emma Campbell1,2, Duncan Gilbert2,1, David Bloomfield2,1
1Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK, 2Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, UK

Background

Testicular cancer in the general population is rare, but it is the commonest form of cancer affecting men in the age group 15-40. Follow-up requires attending regular outpatient appointments for a minimum of five years, some of which are simply to review blood test results previously taken by the GP. This burdens these young men and is putting increasing amounts of pressure on clinic space. This project aims to explore the economic benefits of introducing telephone follow-up to replace a proportion of conventional clinic appointments and to assess the views of the current testicular cancer population in Sussex on telephone follow-up.

Method

A database of the current testicular cancer population in Sussex was devised to evaluate the proportion of clinic visits that could potentially be replaced by telephone follow-up. Data was gathered from patient records. Subsequently how much money this could save was evaluated. A cross-sectional patient satisfaction survey was conducted by administering questionnaires to 42 testicular cancer patients following their appointment at the Sussex Cancer Centre.

Results

Using the patients that were newly diagnosed in 2012, it was identified that seminoma follow-up would generate 292 appointments and non-seminoma 308 appointments over the five year follow-up period, using an intention-to-treat analysis. Of these appointments, 243 could be converted to telephone follow-up. This has the potential to save the commissioners an estimated £17,443.20 annually. Questionnaire results indicated that 86% of patients would find it more convenient if their blood test results were given over the telephone.

Conclusion

These results demonstrate that a pragmatic follow-up protocol should be written and trialled in the testicular clinic at the Sussex Cancer Centre.