The purpose of this study was to explore the cancer experience of survivors with pre-existing diagnoses of heart and/or lung disease following active treatment.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation recruited cancer survivors throughout the United States to complete a web-based survey to provide insight into post-treatment supportive care needs. Experts in survey methodology and oncology, as well as cancer survivors, provided input into the survey.
The 137 individuals whose physicians told them they had heart or lung problems were 50 years old on average, and most were more than five years past active treatment. Two-thirds of these respondents reported pain for long periods, and 20% of them agreed that they now need help with everyday tasks that they did not need help with before their cancer. Among those who were tired, had no energy, or had trouble sleeping and/or resting, less than half (47%) agreed that they had received help with this problem. One third of these respondents indicated that they had decreased their physical activity since their cancer diagnosis because of fatigue and 26% decreased their activities because of pain. More respondents indicated that their needs were met during their cancer treatment than afterwards.
Researchers and health care providers are urged to consider the unmet supportive care needs of cancer survivors with co-morbid conditions following active treatment, particularly the need for careful monitoring of their complex health conditions.
comorbidities; long-term cancer survivorship; clinical trials
To obtain estimates of time to recruit the study sample, retention, facility-based class attendance and home practice for a study of yoga in breast cancer survivors, and its efficacy on fatigue, quality of life (QOL), and weight change.
Sixty-three post-treatment stage 0–III borderline overweight and obese (body mass index ≥ 24 kg/m2) breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to a 6-month, facility- and home-based viniyoga intervention (n = 32) or a waitlist control group (n = 31). The yoga goal was 5 practices per week. Primary outcome measures were changes in self-reported QOL, fatigue, and weight from baseline to 6 months. Secondary outcomes included changes in waist and hip circumference.
It took 12 months to complete recruitment. Participants attended a mean of 19.6 classes and practiced at home a mean of 55.8 times during the 6-month period. At follow-up, 90% of participants completed questionnaires and 87% completed anthropometric measurements. QOL and fatigue improved to a greater extent among women in the yoga group relative to women in the control group, although no differences were statistically significant. Waist circumference decreased 3.1 cm (95% CI: −5.7, −0.4) more among women in the yoga compared with the control group, with no differences in weight change.
This study provides important information regarding recruitment, retention, and practice levels achieved during a 6-month, intensive yoga intervention in overweight and obese breast cancer survivors. Yoga may help decrease waist circumference and improve quality of life; future studies are needed to confirm these results.
yoga; breast cancer; quality of life; weight
We examined quality of life in spouses of men in the Post-Adjuvant Androgen Deprivation trial after radical prostatectomy.
Men at high risk of prostate cancer recurrence were randomized to receive androgen deprivation therapy or observation. Forty-three couples completed telephone interviews every 6 months for 2 years assessing women’s mood disturbance, mental and physical health, and sexual function and bother as well as men’s symptoms and sociodemographic and marital variables. We used linear mixed modeling to explore relationships between wives’ quality of life and time, treatment group, and men’s symptoms.
Women’s mental health functioning improved over time (p<0.05). Furthermore, women with husbands in the observation group had worse mood disturbance (p=0.01) and poorer mental health (p=0.02) than women with husbands in treatment. Men’s symptoms were associated with worse physical health in wives (p=0.02). Women also reported worse sexual function at 18 and 24 months compared with baseline (p=0.02), but ratings of sexual bother were unrelated to time, treatment, and symptoms.
These exploratory results are consistent with research demonstrating that spousal cancer-related distress decreases over time. Treatment group differences suggest that an examination of caregiving in the context of uncertainty is warranted. Also, the physical burden of caregiving may intensify when men have more symptoms. To inform interventions, future studies should clarify how treatment and symptoms influence wives’ distress by examining expectations and communication.
Prostate cancer; Quality of life; Partners; Symptoms
We conducted a qualitative study to explore breast cancer survivors’ perceptions and attitudes about their current healthcare utilization, screening, and information needs.
We completed eight focus groups of breast cancer survivors. We included women, adult survivors, with an initial diagnosis of breast cancer in the year 2000, treated, and without a recurrence as per medical record. To analyze transcripts, we used grounded theory methods, wherein unexpected themes and direct answers emerged from consensus between co-coders.
Focus groups included 33 participants, the majority of whom were white (84.8%), college-educated (66.7%), and covered by private medical insurance (75.7%) or Medicare (27.3%). Participants’ perceptions and attitudes about care were framed in terms of personal experiences (including facing barriers to screening, feeling in limbo in the healthcare system, having problems with communication with and between physicians, confusion about symptoms, and using self-prescribe remedies), personal attitudes (including strong opinions about what survivorship means, concerns about recurrence, and changes in self-perception and agency), and social influences (including modeling others’ behaviors, changes in social life, and listening to family).
Survivorship attitudes, recurrence fears, memories, and self-perceptions were influential personal factors in addition to self-efficacy. Solutions such as providing a cancer treatment summary might resolve many of the problems by consolidating and making readily available the numerous medical history and recommendations that survivors accrue over time, switching from provider to provider. Clinicians must also implement communication changes in their interactions with patients to enhance positive attitudes and behaviors, and leverage social influences.
Qualitative; Breast cancer survivors; Healthcare transition
Prayer is becoming more widely acknowledged as a way to cope with cancer. The goal of this study was to compare differences in use of prayer between breast cancer survivors from different ethnic groups and examine how use of prayer is related to mood and quality of life.
This study used a mixed methods design. One hundred and seventy-five breast cancer survivors participated in a longitudinal study of survivorship. Women completed in-depth qualitative interviews and a battery of measures including quality of life, spirituality, social support, and mood.
Eighty-one percent of the women prayed. There were no significant differences between the groups for any of the psychological, social support, or quality of life variables with the exception of higher benefit finding and spiritual well-being among those who prayed. The data did show that women who prayed were able to find more positive contributions from their cancer experience than women who did not pray. The interviews showed that those who prayed tended to be African American or Asian, Catholic or Protestant. The prayers were for petitioning, comfort, or praise. Some of the women stated that they had difficulty praying for themselves.
While there seems to be few differences in terms of standardized measures of quality of life, social support, and mood between those who prayed and those who did not, the interviews showed that certain ethnic minority groups seem to find more comfort in prayer, felt closer to God, and felt more compassion and forgiveness than Caucasian women.
Prayer; Spirituality; Breast cancer; Ethnic differences; Quality of life; Psychological
Good cancer pain control requires appropriate assessment and treatment. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among physician, nurse practitioner, and nurse knowledge, documentation of assessment, treatment, and pain reduction in cancer patients seen in ambulatory settings.
The study method included an assessment of pain knowledge of providers (physicians, nurse practitioners, and nurses) who worked in cancer clinics and a retrospective review of patients' records treated for cancer-related pain in their clinics. Fifty-eight providers from eight cancer clinics completed the knowledge questionnaire; 56 patient records were reviewed for assessment, treatment, and outcome data. Pain relief, the outcome, was obtained from documentation at the next clinic visit.
Of the 54 patient records that documented pain relief at the next clinic visit, 61.9% reported no relief. Chi square analysis revealed clinics with a higher level of pain knowledge documented a greater number of elements of an ideal pain assessment (p=0.03) but was unrelated to treatment and pain relief reported. Assessment and treatment were unrelated to reported pain relief at the next clinic visit.
These data suggest that providers' pain knowledge is related to pain assessment but not treatment or outcome. In addition, these data showed no relationship between assessment, treatment prescribed, and pain relief in these ambulatory settings.
Cancer pain management; Healthcare provider pain knowledge; Ambulatory settings; Cancer pain guideline
Reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection after chemotherapy can lead to liver failure and death. Conflicting recommendations regarding HBV screening in cancer patients awaiting chemotherapy mean that some patients at risk for HBV reactivation are not being identified and treated with prophylactic antiviral therapy.
We performed a narrative review of the existing evidence regarding screening for and management of HBV infection among patients with cancer using Ovid Medline, PubMed, and the Cochrane Library.
Our review showed inconsistencies in the definition and management strategies for HBV reactivation. The timeframe of reactivation is variable, and its molecular mechanisms are not clear. There are five effective antiviral agents that can be used as prophylaxis to prevent reactivation of HBV infection in cancer patients; however, the optimal drug and duration of therapy are unknown. Reactivation is more commonly reported in patients with hematologic malignancies receiving rituximab treatment, but reactivation can occur after other chemotherapies and in patients with solid tumors. Screening with all three screening tests—HBsAg, anti-HBc, and anti-HBs—allows the most thorough interpretation of a patient’s serologic profile and assessment of reactivation risk; however, decision-making and cost-effectiveness studies are needed to determine optimal screening strategies.
Prevention of reactivation of HBV infection depends on identification of patients at risk and initiation of antiviral prophylaxis, but data to guide screening and treatment strategies are lacking. Additional research is necessary to accurately define and predict reactivation, identify best antiviral treatment strategies, and identify cost-effective HBV screening strategies.
Hepatitis B virus; Reactivation; Chemotherapy; Cancer; Review
The aim of this study was to examine the rate and timing of hemoglobin decline from <10 g/dL to <9 g/dL in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
Pooled data from the placebo arms of six randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) of darbepoetin alfa and data from an aggregated US community oncology clinic electronic medical records (EMR) database were analyzed. Patients had baseline hemoglobin ≥10 g/dL (RCTs) or baseline hemoglobin between ≥10 g/dL and <11 g/dL (EMR episodes) that declined to <10 g/dL at least once during the study period. The proportion of patients/episodes with hemoglobin decline to <9 g/dL by 3, 6, and 9 weeks without erythropoiesis-stimulating agents was estimated from data in each of the data sources, as was the rate of transfusions in the RCTs.
Data from 411 patients receiving placebo in the RCTs and 10,523 patients (10,942 episodes) in the EMR database were analyzed. Forty percent and 35 % of RCT patients and EMR episodes, respectively, had a hemoglobin decline from <10 g/dL to <9 g/dL at week 3, 54 % and 43 % at week 6, and 58 % and 46 % at week 9. Of patients in the RCTs, 43 % required an RBC transfusion.
Hemoglobin can rapidly decline in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy with hemoglobin levels around 10 g/dL, particularly in patients ≥65 years of age. The rapid rate of hemoglobin decline in these patients should be considered for optimal anemia management.
Anemia; Hemoglobin; Chemotherapy; Transfusion; Elderly
Breast cancer remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality for all women in the US. Current research has focused on the psychological relationship and not the sociological relationship between emotions and the experience of breast cancer survivors. This paper focuses on the emotion work involved in self-disclosing a breast cancer diagnosis in a racially or ethnically diverse population.
The participants (n=176) selected for this study were African American, Asian American, Latina, and Caucasian women who had been diagnosed with stages 0, I, or II breast cancer within the past 4 years. They completed an in-depth qualitative interview on self-disclosure and social support.
The results indicate self-disclosing was done at a time when important decisions about treatment needed to be made. Different strategies for disclosure were used, all of which entailed emotion work. Respondents talked about the various elements of emotion work in the disclosure process including: managing others' worry, protecting and soothing others, and educating and instructing others.. For many respondents, disclosure without calculating emotional management meant opening up to others which meant support and an increase in emotional resources.
The findings in this paper have implications for women with breast cancer and demonstrate the need for women to be involved in honest disclosure and less emotional management of others' feelings. There is also a need for education about the nature of the cancer experience among people who are not well educated about the treatment and consequences of cancer. This need may be even stronger among racial and ethnic minorities.
Breast cancer; Self-disclosure; Emotion work; Social support
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of TheraBite exercises on mouth opening and to analyze factors influencing this effect in a patient record evaluation.
Effect of exercises with a TheraBite to treat trismus was evaluated in 69 head and neck cancer patients of two university medical centers. Mouth opening was measured as interincisal distance in millimeters. Patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics were analyzed for their relationship with change in mouth opening. Variables univariately associated (p ≤ 0.05) with change in mouth opening were entered in a logistic regression analysis as possible predictors for an increase in mouth opening of the smallest detectable difference of 5 mm or more.
Mean initial mouth opening was 22.0 mm (SD 6.4); mean increase in mouth opening was 5.4 mm (SD 5.7). “Chemotherapy”, “medical center”, and “time from oncological treatment to start exercises” were significantly associated with an increase in mouth opening. In the logistic regression analysis, “medical center” (β = 1.97) and “time from oncological treatment to start exercises” reduced the odds of reaching an increase in mouth opening of 5 mm or more, β = −0.11 per month.
After TheraBite exercises, mouth opening increased averagely with 5.4 mm. The odds of an increase in mouth opening of 5 mm or more reduces if the time from oncological treatment to start exercises lengthens, corrected for the effect of medical center.
Head and neck neoplasms; Trismus; Exercise therapy; Rehabilitation
Declining kidney function has been associated with adverse hospital outcome in cancer patients. ICU literature suggests that small changes in serum creatinine are associated with poor outcome. We hypothesized that reductions in renal function previously considered trivial would predict a poor outcome in critically ill patients with malignant disease. We evaluated the effects on hospital mortality and ICU length of stay of small changes in creatinine following admission to the intensive care unit.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study utilizing clinical, laboratory and pharmacy data collected from 3,795 patients admitted to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center's Intensive Care Unit. We conducted univariate and multivariate regression analysis to determine those factors associated with adverse ICU and hospital outcome.
Increases in creatinine as small as 10% (0.2 mg/dl) were associated with prolonged ICU stay (5 days vs 6.6 days, p<0.001) and increased mortality (14.6% vs 25.5%, p<0.0001). Patients with a 25% rise in creatinine during the first 72 h of ICU admission were twice as likely to die in the hospital (14.3% vs 30.1%, p<0.001). RIFLE criteria were accurate predictors of outcome, though they missed much of the risk of even smaller increases in creatinine.
Even small rises in serum creatinine following admission to the ICU are associated with increased morbidity and mortality in oncologic patients. The poor outcome in those with rising creatinine could not be explained by severity of illness or other risk factors. These small changes in creatinine may not be trivial, and should be regarded as evidence of a decline in an individual patient's condition.
Acute kidney injury; Cancer; Critical care; Creatinine; Outcome
Few studies examine the relevance of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) instruments for young adult survivors of childhood cancer (YASCC). This study compared psychometric properties of two survivor-specific instruments, the Quality of Life-Cancer Survivor (QOL-CS) and Quality of Life in Adult Cancer Survivor (QLACS).
Data from 151 YASCC who enrolled in Cancer/Tumor Registries of two medical centers were used. We examined construct validity by conducting confirmatory factor analysis using indices of chi-square statistic, comparative fit index (CFI), and root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA). We examined convergent/discriminant validity by comparing Pearson’s correlation coefficients of homogeneous (e.g., physical functioning and pain) of both instruments vs. heterogeneous domains (e.g., physical and psychological functioning). We assessed known-groups validity by examining the extent to which HRQOL differed by late effects and comorbid conditions and calculated relative validity (RV) defined as contrasting F-statistics of individual domains to the domain with the lowest F-statistic. Superior known-groups validity is observed if a domain of one instrument demonstrates a higher RV than other domains of the instruments.
YASCC data cannot replicate the constructs both instruments intend to measure, suggesting poor construct validity. Correlations of between-homogeneous and between-heterogeneous domains of both instruments were not discernible, suggesting poor convergent/discriminant validity. Both instruments were equally able to differentiate HRQOL between YASCC with and without late effects and comorbid conditions, suggesting similar known-groups validity.
Neither instrument is superior. Item response theory is suggested to select high quality items from different instruments to improve HRQOL measure for YASCC.
Childhood cancer; young adult survivor; quality of life; measurement; psychometrics
Data from two randomized trials, evaluating a single-day regimen of palonosetron plus dexamethasone against emesis due to moderately emetogenic chemotherapy, were assessed for the impact of age on outcome in a pooled sample of women receiving anthracycline and/or cyclophosphamide (AC)-containing chemotherapy.
Chemo-naïve breast cancer patients randomized to receive palonosetron (0.25 mg) plus dexamethasone (8 mg IV) on day 1 of chemotherapy (n = 200), or the same regimen followed by oral dexamethasone (8 mg) on days 2 and 3 (n = 205), were included in the analysis. The primary endpoint was complete response (CR: no vomiting and no rescue anti-emetics) in the 5-day study period. The effect of the 1-day regimen and age (<50 and ≥50 years) was investigated by a meta-analysis of individual patient data.
Younger patients comprised 43 % and 49 % of the 1-day and 3-day regimen groups, respectively; 94 % of the pooled sample received the AC combination. There were no between-treatment differences in CR rate according to age during all observation periods. In the 1-day regimen group, 55.2 % of younger patients achieved overall CR compared with 54 % of older patients. In the 3-day regimen group, 51.5 % of younger patients achieved overall CR compared with 58.7 % of older patients. In the adjusted analysis, younger age was not associated with overall CR to treatment (risk difference, −3.1 %; 95 % CI, −13.0 to 6.7 %; P = 0.533).
These results provide evidence that, irrespective of age, the dexamethasone-sparing regimen is not associated with a significant loss in overall anti-emetic protection in women undergoing AC-containing chemotherapy.
Palonosetron; Dexamethasone; CINV; Breast cancer; AC-containing chemotherapy; Meta-analysis
Historically, skin toxicity has been assessed in prospective clinical trials using the clinician-reported National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE). The patient-reported Skindex-16 measures symptoms and perceptions of toxicity. This study was designed to compare information provided by these two measures.
Data were compiled from three placebo-controlled North Central Cancer Treatment Group studies (N06C4, N03CB, N05C4) having rash prevention as the primary objective. All used the Skindex-16 and CTCAE at baseline, weekly during treatment and during a minimum 2-week follow-up period. Statistical procedures, including Pearson correlations, were utilized to determine relationships between adverse event (AE) grades and Skindex-16 scores.
Four hundred and twelve individual patients provided data (median age, 61; 134 male). Patients’ Skindex-16 score results show a 0.9 overall mean (range 0–6 with 6 being worse symptoms), a 0.4 baseline mean (range, 0–4.3) and a 1.3 end-of-treatment mean (range, 0–5.9). Ninety-three, 142 and 177 patients experienced a grade 0, 1 and 2+ CTCAE skin toxicity, respectively. Baseline Skindex-16 scores had relatively low correlation with CTCAE grades. The correlation of rash grade with Skindex-16 scores ranged from r=0.49 with the function subscale to r=0.62 with the symptom subscale. The highest correlations of the maximum grade of any dermatological AE with the Skindex-16 were r=0.48 for the total score and r=0.55 for the symptom subscale.
The data reported support the decision to include both measures in a clinical trial to assess the patient experience, as each measure may specifically target varying symptoms and intensities.
Skindex-16; CTCAE; Dermatitis; Patient-reported outcomes; Cytotoxic treatment-induced dermatitis
Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents can reduce red blood cell transfusion rates in patients developing anemia while receiving chemotherapy. We investigated potential cost savings from reduced transfusion rates in patients starting darbepoetin alfa (DA) at higher versus lower hemoglobin (Hb) levels.
Two systematic literature reviews were performed: transfusion outcomes in patients receiving DA stratified by baseline Hb level and costs of transfusion in Europe. Potential cost savings were calculated by multiplying the difference in transfusion rates between Hb levels by the midpoint of transfusion costs.
Despite differences in baseline characteristics, treatment duration and analysis technique, the clinical studies (n = 8) showed that fewer transfusions were required when DA was initiated at higher versus lower Hb levels. The economic studies (n = 9) showed that 1 unit of transfusion ranged from €130 to €537 (2010-adjusted values). Cost savings from initiating DA at higher versus lower Hb levels were €503–2,226 (2 units transfused) and €880–3,895 (3.5 units) per ten patients.
Transfusion incidence increases with DA initiation at lower Hb levels. Potential cost savings depend on the number of units transfused and cost items included. DA initiation according to guidelines can reduce transfusions and potentially reduce transfusion-associated costs.
Costs; Darbepoetin alfa; Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents; Hemoglobin; Transfusion
Despite the widespread use of antiemetics, nausea continues to be reported by over 70% of patients receiving chemotherapy.
In this double blind, multicenter trial, we randomly assigned 744 cancer patients to four arms: 1) placebo, 2) 0.5g ginger, 3) 1.0g ginger, or 4) 1.5g ginger. Nausea occurrence and severity were assessed at a baseline cycle and the two following cycles during which patients were taking their assigned study medication. All patients received a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist antiemetic on Day 1 of all cycles. Patients took three capsules of ginger (250mg) or placebo twice daily for six days starting three days before the first day of chemotherapy. Patients reported the severity of nausea on a 7-point rating scale (“1” = “Not at all Nauseated” and “7” = “Extremely Nauseated”) for Days 1-4 of each cycle. The primary outcomes were to determine the dose and efficacy of ginger at reducing the severity of chemotherapy-induced nausea on Day 1 of chemotherapy.
A total of 576 patients were included in final analysis (91% female, mean age = 53). Mixed model analyses demonstrated that all doses of ginger significantly reduced acute nausea severity compared to placebo on Day 1 of chemotherapy (p=0.003). The largest reduction in nausea intensity occurred with 0.5g and 1.0g of ginger (p=0.017 and p=0.036, respectively). Anticipatory nausea was a key factor in acute chemotherapy-induced nausea (p<0.0001).
Ginger supplementation at daily dose of 0.5g-1.0g significantly aids in reduction of the severity of acute chemotherapy-induced nausea in adult cancer patients.
chemotherapy; cancer; nausea; ginger
Of patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), 75 % or more experience oral mucositis, a painful acute complication that can delay discharge, interrupt treatment, and threaten life. To evaluate the efficacy of a supersaturated calcium phosphate rinse (SCPR), we compared it with customary care—topical mouth solutions—on measures of severity and consequent interventions and complications.
In this randomized controlled trial, 40 patients undergoing allogeneic HSCT were randomized: 20 to SCPR four times daily and 20 to solutions made with salvia leaf extract, iodine-povidine, and fluconazole. Treatment extended from initiation of conditioning treatment until the granulocyte count was ≥0.2 g/L. Mucositis severity was measured daily by a hematologist according to a World Health Organization (WHO) scale and self-assessed by patients. Need for interventions [analgesics, total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor] and complications (acute graft-versus-host disease and infections) were also assessed.
In comparison with the control group, the SCPR group had significantly lower mean measures of WHO oral toxicity (0.9 vs. 1.8; P = 0.02), disease course (3.2 vs. 7.1 days; P = 0.02), and peak mouth pain (0.85 vs. 1.75; P = 0.005). Analgesic need was significantly shorter (1.1 vs. 3.4 days; P = 0.047) and the need for TPN significantly lower (0 vs. 6 patients; P = 0.02; 0 vs. 1.9 mean days; P = 0.009). Measures of complications were lower in the SCPR group, but not significantly so. Trial limitations include the impracticality of achieving double blinding with agents so different in appearance and in preadministration preparation.
Compared with the control group, the SCPR group had significantly lower mean measures of oral toxicity, peak mouth pain, and disease course duration. These results warrant confirmation in controlled, multicenter, randomized trials.
Oral mucositis; Supersaturated calcium phosphate rinse; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Graft-versus-host disease; Allogeneic transplantation
Patients with advanced cancer often experience negative emotion; clinicians’ empathic responses can alleviate patient distress. Much is known about how physicians respond to patient emotion; less is known about non-physician clinicians. Given that oncology care is increasingly provided by an interdisciplinary team, it is important to know more about how patients with advanced cancer express emotions to non-physician clinicians (NPCs) and how NPCs respond to those empathic opportunities.
We audio recorded conversations between non-physician clinicians and patients with advanced cancer. We analyzed 45 conversations between patients and oncology physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse clinicians in which patients or their loved ones expressed at least one negative emotion to the NPC (i.e., an empathic opportunity). Empathic opportunities were coded three ways: type of emotion (anger, sadness, or fear), severity of emotion (least, moderate, or most severe), and NPC response to emotion (not empathic, on-topic medical response, and empathic response).
We identified 103 empathic opportunities presented to 25 different NPCs during 45 visits. Approximately half of the empathic opportunities contained anger (53%), followed by sadness (25%) and fear (21%). The majority of emotions expressed were moderately severe (73%), followed by most severe (16%), and least severe (12%). The severity of emotions presented was not found to be statistically different between types of NPCs. NPCs responded to empathic opportunities with empathic statements 30% of the time. Additionally, 40% of the time, NPCs responded to empathic opportunities with on-topic, medical explanations and 30% of the responses were not empathic.
Patients expressed emotional concerns to NPCs typically in the form of anger; most emotions were moderately severe, with no statistical differences among types of NPC. On average, NPCs responded to patient emotion with empathic language only 30% of the time. A better understanding of NPC–patient interactions can contribute to improved communication training for NPCs and, ultimately, to higher quality patient care in cancer.
Communication; Emotions; Empathy; Nurse practitioners; Medical oncology; Physician assistants; Professional–patient relations
Most patients with advanced cancer experience negative emotion. When patients express emotions, oncologists rarely respond empathically. Oncologists may respond more empathically to some patients, and patients may perceive different levels of empathy and trust given past documentation of disparities in cancer care.
We audio-recorded 264 outpatient encounters between oncologists and patients with advanced cancer at three sites. We examined whether patient gender, age, race, marital status, education, economic security, and length of relationship with oncologist were related to oncologist empathic responses to patient’s negative emotion and patient’s perceptions of oncologist empathy and trust.
Half (51%) of the patients expressed a negative emotion. Oncologists sometimes responded with empathy (29%). Oncologists were equally empathic with all patients, except they were more empathic with patients with low economic security compared with those reporting high economic security (p=.002). Patients with low economic security viewed oncologists as more empathic (p=.06) compared with those with moderate security. Married patients also viewed oncologists as more empathic (p=.04). Patients who knew their oncologist for more than a year had more trust than patients who knew their oncologists for less time (p=.02).
Oncologists, in general, did not respond empathically to patient’s negative emotion, and did this equally for most patients. Oncologists responded more empathically to patients who were less economically advantaged. In turn, patients with lower economic security perceived more empathy. Although oncologists need more education in responding empathically, they may not need to correct many biases in care.
Empathy; Oncologist; Advanced cancer; Socioeconomic status; Negative emotion
We tested if magnesium would diminish bothersome hot flashes in breast cancer patients.
Breast cancer patients with at least 14 hot flashes a week received magnesium oxide 400 mg for 4 weeks, escalating to 800 mg if needed. Hot flash score (frequency×severity) at baseline was compared to the end of treatment.
Of 29 who enrolled, 25 women completed treatment. The average age was 53.5 years; six African American, the rest Caucasian; eight were on tamoxifen, nine were on aromatase inhibitors, and 14 were on antidepressants. Seventeen patients escalated the magnesium dose. Hot flash frequency/week was reduced from 52.2 (standard error (SE), 13.7) to 27.7 (SE, 5.7), a 41.4% reduction, p=0.02, two-sided paired t test. Hot flash score was reduced from 109.8 (SE, 40.9) to 47.8 (SE, 13.8), a 50.4% reduction, p=0.04. Of 25 patients, 14 (56%) had a >50% reduction in hot flash score, and 19 (76%) had a >25% reduction. Fatigue, sweating, and distress were all significantly reduced. Side effects were minor: two women stopped the drug including one each with headache and nausea, and two women had grade 1 diarrhea. Compliance was excellent, and many patients continued treatment after the trial.
Oral magnesium appears to have helped more than half of the patients and was well tolerated. Side effects and cost ($0.02/tablet) were minimal. A randomized placebo-controlled trial is planned.
Menopause; Hot flashes; Breast cancer; Survivorship; Drug treatment
This study aimed to determine the proportion and characteristics of radiation oncology outpatients who were willing to answer questions about their life expectancy.
A cross-sectional patient self-report survey was conducted using touch screen computers in Australian radiation oncology treatment centers. The primary outcome was the respondent’s willingness to complete a survey subsection about life expectancy. Demographic and disease characteristics were also collected, and level of anxiety and depression was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Of the 469 oncology outpatients who completed the survey, 327 (70 %; 95 % CI, 65 %, 74 %) indicated that they were willing to answer questions about life expectancy. Being female (p < 0.001), older (p < 0.05), born in Asia (p < 0.05), and being diagnosed with cancer types other than breast and prostate cancer (p < 0.01) were associated with lower odds of answering life expectancy questions.
The opportunity to opt-out of survey questions about sensitive issues such as life expectancy is a feasible method for accessing important information about patient preferences while minimizing burden. Further research may be needed to improve acceptability of life expectancy research to some patient groups.
Cancer; Patient-centered care; Patient preference; Prognosis
Pneumatic compression devices (PCDs) are used in the home setting as adjunctive treatment for lymphedema after acute treatment in a clinical setting. PCDs range in complexity from simple to technologically advanced. The objective of this prospective, randomized study was to determine whether an advanced PCD (APCD) provides better outcomes as measured by arm edema and tissue water reductions compared to a standard PCD (SPCD) in patients with arm lymphedema after breast cancer treatment.
Subjects were randomized to an APCD (Flexitouch system, HCPCS E0652) or SPCD (Bio Compression 2004, HCPCS E0651) used for home treatment 1 h/day for 12 weeks. Pressure settings were 30 mmHg for the SPCD and upper extremity treatment program (UE01) with standard pressure for the APCD. Thirty-six subjects (18 per group) with unilateral upper extremity lymphedema with at least 5% arm edema volume at the time of enrollment, completed treatments over the 12-week period. Arm volumes were determined from arm girth measurements and suitable model calculations, and tissue water was determined based on measurements of the arm tissue dielectric constant (TDC).
The APCD-treated group experienced an average of 29% reduction in edema compared to a 16% increase in the SPCD group. Mean changes in TDC values were a 5.8% reduction for the APCD group and a 1.9% increase for the SPCD group.
This study suggests that for the home maintenance phase of treatment of arm lymphedema secondary to breast cancer therapy, the adjuvant treatment with an APCD provides better outcomes than with a SPCD.
Lymphedema; Pneumatic compression devices; Breast cancer; Manual lymphatic drainage; Flexitouch® system; Bio compression 2004 sequential circulator
Nutritional status may influence quality of life and prognosis among pancreatic cancer patients, yet few studies describe measures of nutritional status during treatment. We evaluated the nutritional status of locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) patients undergoing chemoradiotherapy who received baseline nutritional assessment and counseling.
Fourteen newly diagnosed LAPC patients enrolled in phase I/II trials of capecitabine with concomitant radiotherapy were assessed for baseline clinical nutrition measures (body mass index, albumin, weight loss, total energy, and protein intake). Participants completed the Anorexia/Cachexia Subscale (A/CS) questionnaire at baseline and during the 6 weeks of treatment. We evaluated associations between baseline characteristics and subsequent A/CS scores with linear regression and changes in A/CS were assessed with the paired t test.
We observed a statistically significant increase in mean A/CS between baseline [24.9, standard deviation (SD) = 9.7] and end of treatment (29.9, SD = 6.2). Controlling for baseline A/CS score, only weight loss greater than 5% of body weight over 1 month was associated with A/CS scores at 6 weeks (β = 10.558, standard error = 3.307, p value = 0.009) and mean A/CS scores during the last 3 weeks of treatment (β = 12.739, standard error = 2.251, p value = 0.001).
After 6 weeks of chemoradiotherapy, LAPC patients reported a statistically significant improvement in appetite and weight concerns. Increases in AC/S scores were associated with higher baseline A/CS scores and weight loss of 5% or more during 1 month. Further research is needed to determine the impact of nutritional support during treatment, as improvements in this domain may impact LAPC patients’ overall quality of life.
Nutritional assessment; Nutritional status; Pancreatic cancer; Supportive care
The aim of this paper was to briefly describe how the experience-based co-design (EBCD) approach was used to identify and implement improvements in the experiences of breast and lung cancer patients before (1) comparing the issues identified as shaping patient experiences in the different tumour groups and (2) exploring participants' reflections on the value and key characteristics of this approach to improving patient experiences.
Fieldwork involved 36 filmed narrative patient interviews, 219 h of ethnographic observation, 63 staff interviews and a facilitated co-design change process involving patient and staff interviewees over a 12-month period. Four of the staff and five patients were interviewed about their views on the value of the approach and its key characteristics. The project setting was a large, inner-city cancer centre in England.
Patients from both tumour groups generally identified similar issues (or 'touchpoints') that shaped their experience of care, although breast cancer patients identified a need for better information about side effects of treatment and end of treatment whereas lung cancer patients expressed a need for more information post-surgery. Although the issues were broadly similar, the particular improvement priorities patients and staff chose to work on together were tumour specific. Interviewees highlighted four characteristics of the EBCD approach as being key to its successful implementation: patient involvement, patient responsibility and empowerment, a sense of community, and a close connection between their experiences and the subsequent improvement priorities.
EBCD positions patients as active partners with staff in quality improvement. Breast and lung cancer patients identified similar touchpoints in their experiences, but these were translated into different improvement priorities for each tumour type. This is an important consideration when developing patient-centred cancer services across different tumour types.
Experience-based co-design; Quality improvement; Breast cancer; Lung cancer; Patient experience