What are the Needs and Preferences of Patients with Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) are relatively common cancers and as such, the follow up care guidelines vary. For some patients, routine follow-ups add little value, and in addition patients may prefer follow up with their primary care providers rather than seeing a specialist at each subsequent visit. There are studies that focus on the cost-effectiveness and clinical efficacy of these decisions, but few that have looked at what patients may want in managing their ongoing care.

A recent qualitative study used focus groups to identify the needs and preferences of patients with BCC and SCC regarding care. The study included about 40 patients who participated in a semistructured discussion about their needs and preferences regarding treatment and follow-up care.

The results showed that both groups of patients desire a clear and comprehensible explanation of all relevant information regarding their treatment and follow-up. They would like this information on paper, and to be tailored to their diagnosis. For patients with SCC, this included information on the disease background, preventative measures and all available treatments. Both patient groups also noted that clear information on self-inspection would reduce the need for follow-up visits. Patients also expressed need for openness and transparency (even when providers are uncertain), and patients with BCC expressed a wish for shared decision making with regards to treatment decisions or determining which provider will provide follow-up care. Both groups want a provider with good communication and listening skills, and they want continuity of care. Also, both groups preferred to be both treated and followed up by dermatology providers, noting that they are the experts specialized in skin care.

The authors conclude that patients add a critical perspective to improving the quality of skin cancer care. They state that by attending to the needs and preferences of these patients and adding them to care guidelines, low-value visits can be avoided and patient satisfaction increased.