The cost-effectiveness of follow-up strategies after cancer treatment: a systematic literature review

M Barbieri, Gerald Anthony Richardson, Suzy Paisley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cost of treatment and follow-up of cancer patients in the UK is substantial. In a budget-constrained system such as the NHS, it is necessary to consider the cost-effectiveness of the range of management strategies at different points on cancer patients’ care pathways to ensure that they provide adequate value for money.

Sources of data
We conducted a systematic literature review to explore the cost-effectiveness of follow-up strategies of patients previously treated for cancer with the aim of informing UK policy. All papers that were considered to be economic evaluations in the subject areas described above were extracted.

Areas of agreement
The existing literature suggests that intensive follow-up of patients with colorectal disease is likely to be cost-effective, but the opposite holds for breast cancer.

Areas of controversy
Interventions and strategies for follow-up in cancer patients were variable across type of cancer and setting. Drawing general conclusions about the cost-effectiveness of these interventions/strategies is difficult.

Growing points
The search identified 2036 references but applying inclusion/exclusion criteria a total of 44 articles were included in the analysis. Breast cancer was the most common (n = 11) cancer type followed by colorectal (n = 10) cancer. In general, there were relatively few studies of cost-effectiveness of follow-up that could influence UK guidance. Where there was evidence, in the most part, NICE guidance broadly reflected this evidence.

Areas timely to develop research
In terms of future research around the timing, frequency and composition of follow-ups, this is dependent on the type of cancer being considered. Nevertheless, across most cancers, the possibility of remote follow-up (or testing) by health professionals other than hospital consultants in other settings appears to warrant further work.

cancer, follow-up, review, cost-effectiveness
Issue Section: Invited Review
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Medical Bulletin
Early online date12 Apr 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

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