A research team from the University of Manchester and the Christie NHS Foundation Trust has evaluated the use of patient-reported outcomes to improve the recording of lung cancer patients’ side effects associated with radiation therapy.
Lung cancer cases where surgery is not an option receive radiation therapy as the primary line of treatment. Nevertheless, radiation can give rise to unwanted side effects, such as fatigue or inflammation of the tissues.
Currently, health care providers are responsible for assessing treatment-related toxicities.
“Such patient-reported outcome tools have been mainly evaluated for use with chemotherapy treatments. We wanted to assess their feasibility and relevance in lung cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy”, lead researcher Dr. Corinne Faivre-Finn, a researcher in The University of Manchester’s Institute of Cancer Sciences and a consultant based at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, said in a news release.
In their work titled “Investigation of a Patient Reported Outcome tool to assess radiotherapy-related toxicity prospectively in patients with lung cancer“, published in Radiotherapy and Oncology, the team compared data reporting side effects when written by the patients against those written by physicians. Furthermore, they assessed the relation between radiation side effects and quality-of-life measures, such as fatigue, anxiety and breathing difficulties, asking patents to write questionnaires that covered these events at 3 different points – before therapy, at the end of radiation and during a later follow-up.
The results showed there was a stronger correlation between patient’s assessment of toxic side effects and the covered measures related to quality of life. When physicians were responsible for scoring radiation toxicities, the tendency was to underestimate their real severity.
“This was the first study in Europe to explore such a patient-centred approach to recording side effects. Incorporating this method into cancer care could allow us to detect and manage serious effects earlier. It could also improve patient-doctor relationships and help doctors better understand the full impact of treatment on patients,” Dr. Faivre-Finn added in the news release.