Use of survivorship care plans to re-engineer breast cancer follow-up.
The utility of practice guidelines in breast cancer management remains unproved. This paper examines the scope and goals of published guidelines and their utility in the process of breast cancer treatment quality improvement. Although existing breast cancer guidelines vary widely in scope and intent, they provide a framework for meaningful quality-of-care evaluation. Among the few comprehensive breast cancer guideline programs are those developed by the Ontario Cancer Treatment Practice Guidelines Initiative, the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO), and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Ultimately, guidelines will prove useful only if they are utilized as part of a comprehensive program to improve quality, cost-effectiveness, and outcomes. To accomplish this, they must include mechanisms for revision and evaluation. The evaluation of guideline utility in quality improvement, particularly in breast cancer care, is a complex long-term process, which should include input from practitioners, institutions, payors, and government.