Importance: Surveillance imaging and visits are costly and have not been shown to improve oncologic outcomes for patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). However, the benefit of surveillance visits may extend beyond recurrence detection. To better understand surveillance and potentially develop protocols to tailor current surveillance paradigms, it is important to elicit the perspectives of the clinicians who care for patients with HNC.Objective: To characterize current surveillance practices and explore clinician attitudes and beliefs on deintensifying surveillance for patients with HNC.Design, Setting, and Participants: This qualitative study was performed from January to March 2021. Guided by an interpretive description approach, interviews were analyzed to produce a thematic description. Data analysis was performed from March to April 2021. Otolaryngologists and radiation oncologists were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling strategies.Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcomes were current practice, attitudes, and beliefs about deintensifying surveillance and survivorship as well as patients' values and perspectives collected from interviews of participating physicians.Results: Twenty-one physicians (17 [81%] men) were interviewed, including 13 otolaryngologists and 8 radiation oncologists with a median of 8 years (IQR, 5-20 years) in practice. Twelve participants (57%) stated their practice comprised more than 75% of patients with HNC. Participants expressed that there was substantial variation in the interpretation of the surveillance guidelines. Participants were open to the potential for deintensification of surveillance or incorporating symptom-based surveillance protocols but had concerns that deintensification may increase patient anxiety and shift some of the burden of recurrence monitoring to patients. Patient and physician peace of mind, the importance of maintaining the patient-physician relationship, and the need for adequate survivorship and management of treatment-associated toxic effects were reported to be important barriers to deintensifying surveillance.Conclusions and Relevance: In this qualitative study, clinicians revealed a willingness to consider altering cancer surveillance but expressed a need to maintain patient and clinician peace of mind, maintain the patient-clinician relationship, and ensure adequate monitoring of treatment-associated toxic effects and other survivorship concerns. These findings may be useful in future research on the management of posttreatment surveillance.
View details for DOI 10.1001/jamaoto.2021.2824
View details for PubMedID 34734995