Letter to Editor

Pilot Telephone Intervention to Improve Survivorship – Letter to Editor

Thanh P Ho, Mary Jewison, Kathryn J Ruddy and Katharine AR Price*
Division of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, USA

*Corresponding author: Katharine Price, Division of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN, 55905, USA

Published: 01 Dec, 2017
Cite this article as: Ho TP, Jewison M, Ruddy KJ, Price KAR. Pilot Telephone Intervention to Improve Survivorship – Letter to Editor. Clin Surg. 2017; 2: 1794.


Head and neck cancer; Survivorship; Dysphagia; Lymphedema; Fatigue

Letter to Editor

Multimodality Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) treatment results in significant long-term side effects making coordination of care challenging. We conducted a pilot phone intervention to identify and improve management of common problems: neck pain, dysphagia, fatigue, psychological distress, lymphedema, financial concerns, and nicotine dependency. A nurse called patients who had completed definitive therapy for HNC one month before an upcoming appointment and offered services or coordinated referrals as needed.
Forty-eight patients (38 males, median age 60 years, 92% squamous cell carcinoma) were contacted with conversations ranging from 3 to 30 minutes. Symptoms were identified as follows: neck pain (52% of calls), dysphagia (46%), fatigue (33%), psychological concerns (27%), lymphedema (19%), financial concerns (10%) and nicotine dependency (4%). Psychological concerns resulted in the highest number of referrals (Table 1). Ultimately, 31% of conversations led to interventions (educational resources, prescriptions, subspecialty/social work referrals). Proactive calls can identify patients needing resources and potentially improve survivorship care.


The authors thank Julie Schutte, R.N., O.C.N.; Pearl Pham, P.A.-C.; Jessica Brandt, R.N., O.C.N. and Sadie Flatt, R.N. for their assistance with clinical and coordination of care on this study. Funding was institutional.

Table 1

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Table 1
Symptoms reported by HNC patients and interventions provided by nurse-initiated phone call.