Unmet needs in breast cancer survivors are common, and multidisciplinary care is underutilised: the Survivorship Needs Assessment Project

Dean Vuksanovic, Jasotha Sanmugarajah, Dominic Lunn, Raja Sawhney, Kelly Eu, Rhea Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The transition from a breast cancer patient to a survivor can be associated with significant physical, psychological, and social challenges. Development of multidisciplinary evidence-based care during the post-treatment period is a key area of cancer research. This study examined survivorship issues, unmet needs and perceptions about care among a cohort of breast cancer survivors. Methods: Participants were 130 women diagnosed with breast cancer for at least one year, and attending a hospital breast or oncology outpatient clinic. They completed a series of self-report questionnaires assessing demographic and clinical characteristics, unmet needs, severity of survivorship issues, use of multidisciplinary services, clinical benchmarks, survivorship care satisfaction, and suggestions for service improvements. Results: There was an average of 4.9 unmet survivorship needs, with 67% of participants reporting at least one unmet need. Fear of cancer recurrence, stress, coordination of medical care and negative iatrogenic impacts of hormonal treatments were key concerns. The cancer support team typically consisted of medical and nursing staff, and family/friends, and most were satisfied with their survivorship care. There was minimal use of other multidisciplinary clinicians and support groups. Provision of additional dietary and cancer recurrence education, and a written treatment plan were identified as key areas of service improvement. Conclusion: Despite high satisfaction ratings, survivorship issues and unmet needs were relatively common, particularly among younger participants. Use of multidisciplinary care was inconsistent and overall underutilised. Implications for cancer survivors: Ongoing specific evaluation and optimisation of existing models of multidisciplinary survivorship care are essential in meeting the complex needs of breast cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalBreast Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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