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Oral treatment (targeted or chemotherapy) for cancer is being increasingly used. While fatigue is a known side effect of intravenous chemotherapy, the rate of fatigue and the impact of fatigue on other patient-reported outcomes are not well described.
At Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, 180 adult patients prescribed oral targeted or chemotherapy for various malignancies enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of adherence and symptom management. Patients completed baseline self-reported measures of fatigue (Brief Fatigue Inventory; BFI), anxiety and depressive symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; HADS), and quality of life, including subscales for physical, social, emotional, and functional well-being ([QOL] Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy — General; FACT-G). We examined clinically relevant fatigue using a validated cut-off score for moderate-severe fatigue (BFI global fatigue ≥4) and tested the associations with anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and QOL with independent samples t-tests.
At baseline, 45 of 180 participants (25.0%) reported moderate-severe fatigue. Fatigued patients experienced more anxiety symptoms (mean diff. 3.73, P < 0.001), more depressive symptoms (mean diff. 4.14, P < 0.001), and worse QOL on the total FACT-G score (mean diff. −19.58, P < 0.001) and all subscales of the FACT-G compared to patients without moderate-severe fatigue.
Significance of results
One in four patients on oral treatment for cancer experienced clinically relevant fatigue that is associated with greater anxiety and depressive symptoms and worse QOL.
Nivolumab has become an effective treatment option for cancer in various sites; however, this drug may cause immune-related adverse effects due to its mechanism of action. Furthermore, little has been reported on thiamine deficiency (TD) in patients receiving nivolumab treatment.
From a series of cancer patients, we reported a patient with recurrent renal cell carcinoma who developed TD after the start of nivolumab treatment.
A 74-year-old man with recurrent renal cell carcinoma was referred to the psycho-oncology department as he had lost about 4 kg and displayed a loss of energy after four cycles of nivolumab treatment. Psychiatric interviews revealed a decrease in energy. Neurological examination did not reveal any impairment in consciousness, ataxia, or ocular symptoms. He did not develop appetite loss. The malabsorption or overconsumption of some nutrients is thought to occur due to the rapid loss of weight; thus, a reduction in vitamin B1, which has a short storage period in the body and is often deficient in cancer patients, was suspected. The diagnosis of TD was supported by the patient's abnormally low serum thiamine level.
Significance of results
In patients treated with nivolumab, it is necessary to pay careful attention to TD when proceeding with the treatment. It is hoped that future research may reveal the link between nivolumab administration and TD.
Nordic twin studies have played a critical role in understanding cancer etiology and elucidating the nature of familial effects on site-specific cancers. The NorTwinCan consortium is a collaborative effort that capitalizes on unique research advantages made possible through the Nordic system of registries. It was constructed by linking the population-based twin registries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to their country-specific national cancer and cause-of-death registries. These linkages enable the twins to be followed many decades for cancer incidence and mortality. To date, two major linkages have been conducted: NorTwinCan I in 2011–2012 and NorTwinCan II in 2018. Overall, there are 315,413 eligible twins, 57,236 incident cancer cases and 58 years of follow-up, on average. In the initial phases of our work, NorTwinCan established the world’s most comprehensive twin database for studying cancer, developed novel analytical approaches tailored to address specific research considerations within the context of the Nordic data and leveraged these models and data in research publications that provide the most accurate estimates of heritability and familial risk of cancers reported in the literature to date. Our findings indicate an excess familial risk for nearly all cancers and demonstrate that the incidence of cancer among twins mirrors the rate in the general population. They also revealed that twin concordance for cancer most often manifests across, rather than within, cancer sites, and we are currently focusing on the analysis of these cross-cancer associations.
For patients’ entire families, it can be challenging to live with cancer during the palliative stage. However, a sense of coherence buffers stress and could help health professionals identify families that require support. Therefore, the short version of the Family Sense of Coherence Scale (FSOC-S) was translated, culturally adapted, and validated in a Swedish sample.
Translation and cross-cultural adaptation of the FSOC-S into Swedish was conducted in accordance with the World Health Organization's Process for Translation and Adaptation of Research Instruments guidelines. Participants were recruited from two oncology clinics and two palliative centers in Sweden.
Content validity was supported by experts (n = 7), persons with cancer (n = 179), and family members (n = 165). Homogeneity among items was satisfactory for persons with cancer and family members (item-total correlations were 0.45‒0.70 and 0.55‒0.72, respectively) as well as internal consistency (ordinal alpha = 0.91 and 0.91, respectively). Factor analyses supported unidimensionality. FSOC-S correlated (rs > 0.3) with hope, anxiety, and symptoms of depression, which supported convergent validity. The test-retest reliability for items ranged between fair and good (kw = 0.37‒0.61).
Significance of Results
The FSOC-S has satisfactory measurement properties to assess family sense of coherence in persons with cancer and their family members. FSOC-S could be used to identify family members who experience low levels of perceived family sense of coherence which provides health care professionals with insight into families’ needs and ability to live with cancer in the palliative stage.
To evaluate the relationship between spiritual well-being (SpWB) and quality of life (QoL) in cancer (CA) survivors.
The current study was conducted in the oncology center at a university hospital in Central Anatolia/Turkey. In this study, a descriptive cross-sectional survey design was used. The data collected included: a questionnaire form, the current study was conducted in the oncology center at a university hospital in Central Anatolia/Turkey. In this study, a descriptive cross-sectional survey design was used. SpWB was assessed by the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being Scale, version 4 (FACIT-Sp12, v. 4), including Meaning, Peace, and Faith subscales. The QoL was evaluated using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General scale (FACT-G, v. 4). The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson correlations, independent sample t-test, Kruskal-Wallis, and Mann-Whitney U test.
One hundred fifty patients participated in this study: 61.30% female, 78% 45 years of age or older, 94.70% married, 46% had finished, and 69% had gastrointestinal tract CA. The mean age was 53.48 (SD = 9.43). The majority of participants (96.7%) endorsed “a force pushing them a will to live” while 59.3% supported “the power of relationships with others.” There was a positive, strong correlation between overall QoL and SpWB (r = 0.619, p < 0.01). The Meaning dimensions of SpWB with Functional Well-Being (FWB) and overall QoL (r = 0.512; 0.595, p < 0.000 respectively), Peace with Emotional Well-Being (EWB) and FWB (r = 0.598; 0.540, p < 0.000 respectively) dimensions of FACT-G and overall QoL (r = 0.609, p < 0.001) were strong correlated. Faith and QoL were not significantly correlated.
Significance of results
This study demonstrates that SpWB positively contributed to the QoL of CA survivors. SpWB is not necessarily limited to any specific types of beliefs or practices. For some people, faith in self, others and/or God constitutes, in large part, the meaning, purpose, and fulfillment they find in life.
Demoralization is an existential distress syndrome that consists of an incapacity of coping, helplessness, hopelessness, loss of meaning and purpose, and impaired self-esteem. It can affect cancer patients, and the Demoralization Scale is a valid instrument to assess it. The present study aimed to investigate the prevalence of demoralization in end-of-life cancer patients and its associations with the medical and psychosocial variables. In addition, the latent dimensions of demoralization emerging in this distinctive population were explored.
The study is cross-sectional. The sample consisted of 235 end-of-life cancer patients with a Karnofsky performance status (KPS) lower than 50 and a life expectancy of a few weeks. For each patient, personal and medical data was gathered by a palliative physician and a set of validated rating scales, assessing demoralization, anxiety, depression, physical symptoms, pain, spiritual well-being, and dignity, was administered by a psychologist during the first consultation.
Sixty-four participants (27.2%) had low demoralization, 50.2% (n = 118) had medium demoralization, and 22.6% (n = 53) had high demoralization. Factor analysis evidenced a five-factor solution that identified the following demoralization factors: Emotional Distress and Inability to Cope, Loss of Purpose and Meaning, Worthlessness, Sense of Failure, and Dysphoria. All the considered variables were associated with demoralization, except for pain, nausea, breathing problems, and sociodemographic and clinical variables.
Significance of results
End-of-life cancer patients showed higher levels of demoralization than has been reported in other studies with advanced cancer. These data could suggest that demoralization could increase in proximity to death and with impaired clinical condition. In particular, the five demoralization dimensions that emerged could represent the typical concerns around which the syndrome evolves in end-of-life cancer patients. Finally, spiritual well-being could play a protective role with respect to demoralization.
This study aimed to determine the cutoff and the specificity and sensitivity of the Emotion Thermometers (ET) in a Portuguese sample of cancer patients.
A total of 147 patients (mean age = 49.2; SD = 12.6) completed the ET, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the Subjective Experiences of Illness Suffering Inventory. Data were collected in a cancer support institution and in a major hospital in the North of Portugal.
The optimal cutoff for the Anxiety Thermometer was 5v6 (until 5 and 6 or more), which identified 74% of the BSI-anxiety cases and 70% of noncases. The Depression Thermometer cutoff was 4v5 (until 4 and 5 or more), which identified 85% of BSI-depression cases and 82% of noncases. Cutoff for the Anger Thermometer was 4v5 (until 4 and 5 or more), which identified 83% of BSI-hostility cases and 73% of noncases; for the Distress Thermometer, the optimal cutoff was 4v5 (until 4 and 5 or more), which identified 84% of the suffering cases and 73% of noncases. Finally, for the Help Thermometer, it was 3v4 (until 3 and 4 or more), which helped to identify 93% of the suffering cases and 64% of noncases.
Significance of results
Results supported the Portuguese version of the ET as an important screening tool for identifying the emotional distress in cancer patients.
Delays in the diagnosis of cancer were found to be a worldwide matter, and the early cancer detection has been targeted as a way to improve survival. Quantitative studies from Saudi Arabia reported a high number of cancer cases presenting at cancer centres for the first time with more advanced stages of the disease progression compared to Western countries without exploring the reasons for this phenomenon. Worldwide research identified several factors that contribute to delay in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer which were attributed to both patient and healthcare system. However, it was argued that variation in the operation of health systems and the socio-cultural context across countries makes it difficult to generalise findings beyond individuals’ countries. This necessitates country specific research to investigate why patients in Saudi Arabia present to cancer centres with late/advanced stages of their diseases.
Research aim and objectives:
The aim of this study is to identify and explore the factors that contribute to late-stage presentation of common cancers in Saudi Arabia. The main objective of this study is to understand the help seeking journey taken by patients with cancer from the time they discovered or felt their symptoms until the time they have their treatment initiated.
Qualitative interviewing was used to collect data from 20 patients and 15 health professionals. The interviews were transcribed and then were subjected to the thematic analysis using a framework approach developed by Ritchie and Spencer (1994).
While some findings support what previous studies found as contributing factors responsible for delayed presentation of common cancers, this study identified several factors, which are believed to be country-specific. The ‘role of General Practitioner (GP)’, ‘challenges facing GPs’ and ‘ambiguity of the referral system’ were found to be factors that contribute to delay in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in Saudi Arabia.
This research identified several factors that need to be investigated in the future using quantitative methods. There is a need to investigate the extent of using alternative medicine and its possible association with late presentation of cancer.
Thiamine deficiency (TD) is recognized in various kinds of disease with associated loss of appetite including cancer. However, it has not been recognized to date in bereaved partners after spousal loss from cancer.
From a series of bereaved partners who lost a spouse to cancer, we report on those who developed TD after bereavement.
Case 1 was a 57-year-old woman who sought consultation at our “bereavement clinic.” Her husband had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer one year earlier and had died one month previously. At the first visit, she was observed to suffer depression, anxiety, and decreased appetite. Neurological, blood, and biochemical examinations did not reveal any noteworthy findings. She was diagnosed with uncomplicated bereavement. Detailed examination revealed that her appetite had been markedly decreased for approximately five weeks. The diagnosis of TD was supported by her abnormally low serum thiamine level. Case 2 was a bereaved 73-year-old male who had lost his wife to hypopharyngeal cancer one month previously after a five-year illness. He had shown a lack of energy for the month preceding his wife's death, but because there was no improvement after her death, his family recommended he seek consultation at our “bereavement clinic.” He was suffering from major depressive disorder. Detailed examination revealed that his appetite had been decreased for more than two weeks. Again, the diagnosis of TD was supported by his abnormally low serum thiamine level.
Significance of results
These reports demonstrate that there is a possibility that bereaved could develop TD after the loss of a loved one. TD should be considered whenever there is a loss of appetite lasting for more than 2 weeks, and medical staff should pay careful attention to the physical condition of the bereaved to prevent complications because of TD.
Introduction: Sepsis in cancer patients is associated with higher mortality rates than non-cancer patients. As a whole, hematological or solid tumor cancers have not demonstrated a prognostic link to sepsis survival rates in intensive care units (ICU), however poor-prognosis solid tumours (less than 25% 5-year survival) have not been investigated. This study examined ICU mortality rate and its predictive factors of patients with sepsis and poor-prognosis solid tumors in comparison to patients with higher prognosis solid tumours. Methods: A 6-year retrospective chart review of 79 patients with sepsis and solid tumour cancers and/or metastatic cancers admitted to the ICU was conducted. Information regarding mortality rate within 14 days, length of ICU stay, incidence of intubation, and other primary reasons for ICU admission was collected. Data was analysed using logistic regression. Results: Logistic regression results showed intubation as the only significant factor contributing to patient mortality (p < .001), with the odds of mortality being 12.3 times higher for intubated than non-intubated patients. Five-year cancer survival rate was the second best predictor (p = .082), while age, sex, and metastasis were also not significant predictive factors for survival. Intubated patients with poor prognosis cancers had the lowest survival chance as further indicated by the 16 patients who met this criterion, of which 14 died within two weeks of ICU admission. Conclusion: The fact that poor prognosis cancers in sepsis were not significantly predictive of ICU mortality supports current literature regarding solid tumors in general, while intubation being a significant predictor for mortality in patients with sepsis and cancer regardless of type builds on previous research. A limitation of this study is the relative low number of included cases with poor-prognosis cancer types. Further evaluation is needed to understand the implications of our results for end-of-life care and ICU admission for patients with these characteristics.
To assess published reports of oncological surgical success rates in patients who underwent transoral laser supraglottic surgery and robotic surgery for supraglottic cancer.
A systematic review of the literature was conducted and a meta-analysis of published data was performed. PubMed, Sage, Medline and Cochrane data sources were investigated. Overall survival rates, disease-specific survival rates, additional treatments and recurrence rates were investigated to determine the success of the surgical procedures.
The meta-analysis included 24 studies; 1617 studies were excluded. There were no statistically significant differences between the transoral laser supraglottic surgery and transoral robotic supraglottic surgery groups in terms of overall survival (77.0 per cent and 82.4 per cent respectively) and disease-specific survival (75.8 per cent and 87.0 per cent respectively). There was recurrence in 164 out of 832 patients (19.7 per cent) in the transoral laser supraglottic surgery group and in only 6 out of 66 patients (9 per cent) in the transoral robotic supraglottic surgery group.
Transoral laser surgery and robotic surgery appear to have comparable and acceptable oncological success rates.
The purpose of the current study was to use a mixed-methods approach to assess the perspective of cancer survivors on the bidirectional impact between cancer and their social contexts.
A fixed concurrent triangulation mixed-methods survey design was used with open- and closed-ended questions that were predetermined and administered to participants. Quantitative items included demographic questions and the Life Impact Checklist. Qualitative questions were designed to explore the bidirectional impact between the patient and specific contexts including spirituality/faith, the spousal/partner relationship, and the family. A cross-sectional descriptive approach was used to evaluate the quantitative items and the constant comparative method guided the analysis of open-ended questions.
Among 116 participants (mean age 58.4 years), the majority were female (66.7%) with breast cancer (27.9%). Nearly one-half the respondents endorsed a positive impact of cancer on their spirituality/faith, but qualitative results suggested less of a bidirectional impact. The importance of the spouse/partner during the cancer experience was emphasized, including the subthemes of instrumental and emotional support; however, there was often a negative impact of cancer on the spouse/partner relationship, including sexual functioning. Survivors indicated family members provided instrumental and emotional support, but not as regularly or directly as a spouse/partner.
Significance of results
Social contexts are important among cancer survivors, with many cancer survivors relying more on their spouse/partner than other family members for support. The cancer experience is stressful not only for survivors, but also for individuals in their social contexts and relationships.
Wearable devices such as a wrist actigraph may have a potential to objectively estimate patients’ functioning and may supplement performance status (PS). This proof-of-concept study aimed to evaluate whether actigraphy data are significantly associated with patients’ functioning and are predictive of their survival in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.
We collected actigraphy data for a three-day period in ambulatory patients with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. We computed correlations between actigraphy data (specifically, proportion of time spent immobile while awake) and clinician-rated PS, subjective report of physical activities, quality of life (the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy – Trial Outcome Index), and survival.
Actigraphy data (the proportion of time awake spent immobile) were significantly correlated with Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy – Trial Outcome Index (r = −0.53, p < 0.001) and with the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group PS (ECOG PS) (r = 0.37, p < 0.001). The proportion of time awake spent immobile was significantly associated with worse survival. For each 10% increase in this measure, the hazard ratio (HR) was 1.48 (95% confidence interval [CI95%] = 1.06, 2.06) for overall mortality, and odds ratio was 2.99 (CI95% = 1.27, 7.05) for six-month mortality. ECOG PS was also associated with worse survival (HR = 2.80, CI95% = 1.34, 5.86). Among patients with ECOG PS 0-1, the percentage of time awake spent immobile was significantly associated with worse survival, HR = 1.93 (CI95% = 1.10, 3.42), whereas ECOG PS did not predict survival.
Significance of Results
Actigraphy may have potential to predict important clinical outcomes, such as quality of life and survival, and may serve to supplement PS. Further validation study is warranted.
Thiamine deficiency (TD) is recognized in various kinds of disease with associated loss of appetite including cancer; however, TD has not been recognized in the family caregivers of cancer patients to date.
From a series of cancer patient caregivers, we reported an aged family caregiver who developed TD while caring for the cancer patient.
The caregiver was a 90-year-old male. He had been accompanying his wife, who was diagnosed with colon cancer 4 years previously, on hospital visits as the primary caregiver, but because of psychological issues, he was recommended to visit the psycho-oncology department's “caregiver's clinic” for a consultation. Detailed examination revealed that his appetite had been only about 50% of usual from about one year before, and he had lost 12 kg in weight in one year. The diagnosis of TD was supported by his abnormally low serum thiamine level.
Significance of the results
This report demonstrates that there is a possibility that care providers could develop TD from the burdens associated with caregiving. TD should be considered whenever there is a loss of appetite lasting for more than 2 weeks, and medical staff should pay careful attention to the physical condition of care providers to prevent complications resulting from TD.
All accredited cancer institutions are required to screen patients for psychosocial distress. This paper describes the development, implementation, and preliminary outcomes of the University of California San Diego Health Moores Cancer Center Wellbeing Screening Program.
Essential steps learned in a formal National Cancer Institute–funded training workshop entitled “Implementing Comprehensive Biopsychosocial Screening” were followed to ensure successful program implementation. These steps included identification of stakeholders; formation of a working committee; establishment of a vision, process, and implementation timeline; creation of a screening tool; development of patient educational material; tool integration into an electronic medical record system; staff training and pilot testing of tool administration; and education about tool results and appropriate follow-up actions. Screening data were collected and analyzed retrospectively for preliminary results and rapid cycle improvement of the wellbeing screening process.
Over an 8-month implementation and assessment period, the screening tool was administered 5,610 times of 7,664 expected administrations (73.2%.) to 2,394 unique patients. Visits in which the questionnaire was administered averaged 39.6 ± 14.8 minutes, compared with 40.3 ± 15.2 minutes for visits in which the questionnaire was not administered (t = −1.76, df = 7,662, p = 0.079).
Significance of results
This program provides a process and a tool for successful implementation of distress screening in cancer centers, in a meaningful way for patients and providers, while meeting accreditation standards. Further, meaningful data about patient distress and tool performance were able to be collected and utilized.
This review evaluates evidence on dietary interventions for cancer survivors giving an overview of people's views and preferences for service attributes and provides a narrative review. After cancer, people often want to change their diet and there is a plethora of evidence why dietary optimisation would be beneficial. However, cancer survivors have different preferences about attributes of services including: place, person and communication mode. Randomised control trials have been reviewed to provide a narrative summary of evidence of dietary interventions. Most studies were on survivors of breast cancer, with a few on colorectal, prostate and gynaecological survivors. Telephone interventions were the most frequently reported means of providing advice and dietitians were most likely to communicate advice. Dietary assessment methods used were FFQ, food diaries and 24-h recalls. Dietary interventions were shown to increase intake of fruit and vegetables, dietary fibre, and improve diet quality in some studies but with contradictory findings in others. Telephone advice increased fruit and vegetable intake primarily in women with breast cancer and at some time points in people after colorectal cancer, but findings were inconsistent. Findings from mail interventions were contradictory, although diet quality improved in some studies. Web-based and group sessions had limited benefits. There is some evidence that dietary interventions improve diet quality and some aspects of nutritional intake in cancer survivors. However, due to contradictory findings between studies and cancer sites, short term follow-up and surrogate endpoints it is difficult to decipher the evidence base.
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is one of the most commonly reported disease- and treatment-related side effects that impede quality of life. This systematic review and meta-analysis describes the effects of nutrition therapy on CRF and quality of life in people with cancer and cancer survivors. Studies were identified from four electronic databases until September 2017. Eligibility criteria included randomised trials in cancer patients and survivors; any structured dietary intervention describing quantities, proportions, varieties and frequencies of food groups or energy and macronutrient consumption targets; and measures of CRF and quality of life. Standardised mean differences (SMD) were pooled using random-effects models. The American Dietetic Association’s Evidence Analysis Library Quality Checklist for Primary Research was used to evaluate the methodological quality and risk of bias. A total of sixteen papers, of fifteen interventions, were included, comprising 1290 participants. Nutrition therapy offered no definitive effect on CRF (SMD 0·18 (95 % CI –0·02, 0·39)) or quality of life (SMD 0·07 (95 % CI –0·10, 0·24)). Preliminary evidence indicates plant-based dietary pattern nutrition therapy may benefit CRF (SMD 0·62 (95 % CI 0·10, 1·15)). Interventions using the patient-generated subjective global assessment tool and prescribing hypermetabolic energy and protein requirements may improve quality of life. However, the heterogeneity seen in study design, nutrition therapies, quality-of-life measures and cancer types impede definitive dietary recommendations to improve quality of life for cancer patients. There is insufficient evidence to determine the optimal nutrition care plan to improve CRF and/or quality of life in cancer patients and survivors.