Effect of general practitioner-led versus surgeon-led colon cancer survivorship care, with or without eHealth support, on quality of life (I CARE): an interim analysis of 1-year results of a randomised, controlled trial

Lancet Oncol. 2021 Aug;22(8):1175-1187. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00273-4. Epub 2021 Jul 2.


Background: Colon cancer is associated with an increased risk of physical and psychosocial morbidity, even after treatment. General practitioner (GP) care could be beneficial to help to reduce this morbidity. We aimed to assess quality of life (QOL) in patients who received GP-led survivorship care after treatment for colon cancer compared with those who received surgeon-led care. Furthermore, the effect of an eHealth app (Oncokompas) on QOL was assessed in both patient groups.

Methods: We did a pragmatic two-by-two factorial, open-label, randomised, controlled trial at eight hospitals in the Netherlands. Eligible patients were receiving primary surgical treatment for stage I-III colon cancer or rectosigmoid carcinoma and qualified for routine follow-up according to Dutch national guidelines. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1)-via computer-generated variable block randomisation stratified by age and tumour stage-to survivorship care overseen by a surgeon, survivorship care overseen by a surgeon with access to Oncokompas, survivorship care overseen by a GP, or survivorship care overseen by a GP with access to Oncokompas. Blinding of the trial was not possible. The primary endpoint of the trial was QOL at 5 years, as measured by the change from baseline in the European Organistion for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30 summary score. Here, we report an unplanned interim analysis of QOL at the 12-month follow-up. Grouped comparisons were done (ie, both GP-led care groups were compared with both surgeon-led groups, and both Oncokompas groups were compared with both no Oncokompas groups). Differences in change of QOL between trial groups were estimated with linear mixed-effects models. A change of ten units was considered clinically meaningful. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with the Netherlands Trial Register, NTR4860.

Findings: Between March 26, 2015, and Nov 21, 2018, 353 patients were enrolled and randomly assigned. There were 50 early withdrawals (27 patient decisions and 23 GP withdrawals). Of the remaining 303 participants, 79 were assigned to surgeon-led care, 83 to surgeon-led care with Oncokompas, 73 to GP-led care, and 68 to GP-led care with Oncokompas. Median follow-up was 12·2 months (IQR 12·0-13·0) in all groups. At baseline, QOL was high in all trial groups. At 12 months, there was no clinically meaningful difference in change from baseline in QOL between the GP-led care groups and the surgeon-led care groups (difference in summary score -2·3 [95% CI -5·0 to 0·4]) or between the Oncokompas and no Oncokompas groups (-0·1 [-2·8 to 2·6]).

Interpretation: In terms of QOL, GP-led survivorship care can be considered as an alternative to surgeon-led care within the first year after colon cancer treatment. Other outcomes, including patient and physician preferences, will be important for decisions about the type of survivorship care.

Funding: Dutch Cancer Society (KWF).

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare / methods*
  • Aged
  • Colonic Neoplasms*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surgeons*
  • Survivorship
  • Telemedicine*