Between January 2004 and February 2006, 109 patients after intentionally curative surgery for oesophageal or gastric cardia cancer were randomised to standard follow-up of surgeons at the outpatient clinic (standard follow-up; n=55) or by regular home visits of a specialist nurse (nurse-led follow-up; n=54). Longitudinal data on generic (EuroQuol-5D, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30) and disease-specific quality of life (EORTC QLQ-OES18), patient satisfaction and costs were collected at baseline and at 6 weeks and 4, 7 and 13 months afterwards. We found largely similar quality-of-life scores in the two follow-up groups over time. At 4 and 7 months, slightly more improvement on the EQ-VAS was noted in the nurse-led compared with the standard follow-up group (P=0.13 and 0.12, respectively). Small differences were also found in patient satisfaction between the two groups (P=0.14), with spouses being more satisfied with nurse-led follow-up (P=0.03). No differences were found in most medical outcomes. However, body weight of patients of the standard follow-up group deteriorated slightly (P=0.04), whereas body weight of patients of the nurse-led follow-up group remained stable. Medical costs were lower in the nurse-led follow-up group (2600 euro vs 3800 euro), however, due to the large variation between patients, this was not statistically significant (P=0.11). A cost effectiveness acceptability curve showed that the probability of being cost effective for costs per one point gain in general quality-of-life exceeded 90 and 75% after 4 and 13 months of follow-up, respectively. Nurse-led follow-up at home does not adversely affect quality of life or satisfaction of patients compared with standard follow-up by clinicians at the outpatient clinic. This type of care is very likely to be more cost effective than physician-led follow-up.