SEER Logo

SEER Training Modules

Introduction to Cancer Patient Follow-up

Patient follow-up is performed by hospital-based and many population-based registries. Although these registries may use different methods and different sources, many of the procedures involved in following patients in their registries are similar. The follow-up system can promote optimal patient care and provide a valuable record of patient outcomes. The primary purposes of follow-up are to ensure continued medical surveillance to determine outcomes of the treatment, and to monitor the health status of the population under investigation. Follow-up information provides the documentation of residual disease or its spread, recurrences, or additional malignancies. Subsequent treatments should be included in the patient hospital database.

Outcome and end-results data enable researchers, physicians, and others to assess clinical standards, quality of care, and to predict patient survival. Follow-up information must be comprehensive. To produce survival data, successful follow-up must be maintained. These factors necessitate an organized system of long-term surveillance.

"The main purpose of patient follow-up is to determine if the treatment worked."

— Dr. E. A. Codman
Founding Member of the American College of Surgeons