Background: Early referral of cancer patients for palliative care significantly improves the quality of life. It is not clear which patients can benefit from an early referral, and when the referral should occur. A Delphi Panel study proposed 11 major criteria for an outpatient palliative care referral.
Objective: To operationalize major Delphi criteria in a cohort of lung cancer patients, using a prospective approach, by linking health administrative data.
Design: Population-based observational cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: The study population comprised 38,851 cases of lung cancer in the Ontario Cancer Registry, diagnosed from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2016.
Measurements: We operationalized 6 of the 11 major criteria (4 diagnosis or prognosis based and 2 symptom based). Patients were considered eligible (index event) for palliative care if they qualified for any criterion. Among eligible patients, we identified those who received palliative care.
Results: Twenty-eight thousand one hundred sixty-four patients were eligible for palliative care by qualifying for either the diagnosis- or prognosis-based criteria (n = 21,036, 76.5%), or for symptom-based criteria (n = 7128, 23.5%). A total of 23,199 (82.4%) patients received palliative care. The median time from palliative care eligibility to the receipt of first palliative care or death or maximum study follow-up was 56 days (range = 17–348).
Conclusions: We operationalized six major criteria that identified the majority of lung cancer patients who were eligible for palliative care. Most eligible patients received the palliative care before death. Future research is warranted to test these criteria in other cancer populations.
BACKGROUND: Cancer patients often present with several concurrent symptoms. There is evidence to suggest that related symptoms can cluster together in stable groups. The present study sought to identify symptom clusters in advanced cancer patients using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) in a palliative outpatient radiotherapy clinic.
METHODS: Principal component analysis (PCA), exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) were used to identify symptom clusters among the 9 ESAS items using ESAS scores from each patient's first visit.
RESULTS: PCA identified three symptom clusters (cluster 1: depression, anxiety; cluster 2: nausea, dyspnea, loss of appetite; cluster 3: pain, well-being, tiredness, drowsiness). EFA identified two clusters (cluster 1: tiredness, drowsiness, loss of appetite, well-being, pain, nausea, dyspnea; cluster 2: depression, anxiety). HCA identified three symptom clusters (cluster 1: depression, anxiety, pain, well-being; cluster 2: tiredness, drowsiness, dyspnea; cluster 3: nausea, loss of appetite).
CONCLUSIONS: Symptom clusters were identified using three analytical methods. The following items were always in the same cluster: depression and anxiety; nausea and appetite loss; well-being and pain; tiredness and drowsiness. Further research in symptom clusters is necessary to advance our understanding of the complex symptom interactions in advanced cancer patients and to determine the most clinically relevant symptom clusters.
BACKGROUND: Clinician predicted survival (CPS) plays a crucial role in palliative care, informing physicians of appropriate treatment best suited to the patient. The primary objective of this study was to assess the accuracy of CPS of cancer patients referred for palliative radiotherapy. Secondary objectives included an analysis of factors predictive of accurate CPS, comparisons of the accuracy of survival predictions over subsequent clinic visits, and comparisons to the previous study in the Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program (RRRP) in 2005.
METHODS: CPS was provided by one of four radiation oncologists from August 2014 to March 2017. Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), primary cancer site, and sites of metastases were recorded. Date of death was retrieved from the Patient Care System (PCS) and Excelicare. Mean difference between actual survival (AS) and CPS was used to determine the accuracy of survival predictions.
RESULTS: One-hundred seventy-two patients were included in the final analysis. Survival was largely overestimated (n=135, 78.5%), with CPS being overestimated by 19.0 weeks on average. KPS (P=0.2), primary cancer site (P=0.08), and various sites of metastases were not significantly related to CPS accuracy. Gender was significantly related to CPS accuracy after multivariable analysis (P=0.04), but was no longer significant after excluding prostate and breast cancer patients in multivariable analysis (P=0.2). The mean difference between AS and CPS did not significantly change over subsequent visits (P=0.5) and CPS accuracy decreased significantly compared to the previous RRRP study (P=0.04).
CONCLUSIONS: The survival estimates provided by radiation oncologists are inaccurately overestimated. Further research should aim to increase the accuracy of CPS in order to improve patient outcomes.
Pain flare is a well-recognized side-effect of palliative radiotherapy for the treatment of painful bone metastases, with recent randomized data showing incidence rates up to 35%. The impact of pain flare has been associated with worsening immobility, anxiety, depression and quality of life. The use of dexamethasone has recently been supported as an effective option in reducing radiation-induced pain flare based on the NCIC Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) Symptom Control 23 (SC.23) randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Despite this, conflicting opinions exist, and standard clinical use of dexamethasone to prevent pain flare continues to be debated among clinicians. Given this controversy, two sides of the debate are presented. Although consensus has not been achieved, the choice to use dexamethasone in the prophylactic setting to reduce pain flare incidence should be a shared decision between the oncologist and patient. Factors including symptom burden, comorbidities, performance status, quality of life and radiation dose and fractionation should be taken into account on an individualized level.
BACKGROUND: Patients with advanced cancer often experience a multitude of symptoms. Due to the potential interrelation of symptoms, symptom clusters of 2 or more concurrent symptoms have been advocated for use in the palliative setting to provide better management of symptoms.
METHODS: The principal component analysis (PCA), exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and hierarchal cluster analysis (HCA) were conducted on responses to items 1-14 in the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life-C15-Palliative (EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL) at baseline and days 5 and 10 following RT.
RESULTS: There was complete data for 109, 90 and 87 patients at baseline, day 5 and day 10 respectively. The average age was 72 years. The most common site of primary was the prostate (36.7%), and almost all patients presented with bone metastases (95.4%). Analyses identified 2-4 clusters at each interval. From baseline to day 10 follow-up, across all analyses, items associated with physical functioning clustered consistently with shortness of breath. Pain and pain interference clustered with nausea at baseline; and with sleep at both follow-up intervals. Cronbach's alpha values for the clusters ranged from 0.53 to 0.90.
CONCLUSIONS: Fluctuation of symptom clusters was observed in a short time frame following palliative RT. Although clusters were dynamic, several items tended to cluster together. Further research is required to validate these clusters.
BACKGROUND: Approved almost 15 years ago for use in the chemotherapy setting, palonosetron, a 2nd generation 5-hydroxtryptamine 3 receptor antagonist (5-HT3 RA), has demonstrated efficacy in preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. However, its utility in the prophylaxis and treatment of radiation-induced nausea and vomiting (RINV) has yet to be evaluated. In this pilot study, we investigated the rates of control in RINV in patients with pre-existing emesis.
METHODS: Patients with pre-existing emesis undergoing palliative radiotherapy to sites with emetic risk were prescribed palonosetron 0.5 mg before the start of radiation treatment, and every other day until completion of treatment. Patients were followed up in acute (day 1 of treatment to day 1 after treatment) and delayed phases (days 2-10 after treatment). Prophylaxis and rescue (PR) was defined as a decrease in anti-emetic use, or episodes of nausea and/or vomiting from baseline. Complete prophylaxis (CP) was defined as no increase in anti-emetic use, or episodes of nausea and/or vomiting. Secondary endpoints included control of nausea and quality of life (QOL), as assessed with the Functional Living Index-Emesis and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 15 Palliative.
RESULTS: Fourteen patients were enrolled. Rates of control were higher in the acute phase (n=14) for nausea (PR =42.9%, CP =42.9%) and vomiting (PR =21.4%, CP =71.4%) compared to the delayed phase (n=13) for nausea (PR =42.9%, CP =7.7%) and vomiting (PR =15.4%, CP =53.8%).
CONCLUSIONS: Palonosetron appears to be safe and patients with pre-existing emesis receiving palliative radiotherapy. More studies are needed to investigate its efficacy in this patient population.
BACKGROUND: Nausea and vomiting are commonly experienced by cancer patients, and can be assessed by the Functional Life Index-Emesis (FLIE) instrument which employs a three-day recall period. However, it is unknown whether patients' responses to the FLIE better correlate with the average or the worst symptom severity of the recall period, or the severity of an individual day.
METHODS: Patients receiving emetogenic radiotherapy for painful bone metastases who were enrolled in one of three trials for anti-emetic medications (ondansetron, aprepitant/granisetron, or palonosetron) completed the FLIE at baseline, and days 3, 5, 7, or 10 during treatment and follow-up. The concordance correlation coefficient (rc) was calculated between FLIE overall nausea and vomiting and daily nausea, vomiting, and quality of life (QoL) using the average responses of the 3-day recall period and with each of the three days' responses.
RESULTS: Responses from eighty-nine patients who experienced nausea or vomiting were analysed. The highest concordance for FLIE nausea was with the 3-day average [during treatment: rc =0.698, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.495, 0.829; follow-up: rc =0.821, 95% CI: 0.711, 0.892]. FLIE vomiting had the highest concordance with worst day vomiting (during treatment, rc =0.310, 95% CI: 0.194, 0.417) or two day-prior vomiting (follow-up, rc =0.902, 95% CI: 0.832, 0.944). FLIE nausea and vomiting had inconsistent concordances with daily assessments of QoL.
CONCLUSIONS: Responses to the FLIE questionnaire are most representative of average nausea severity. Larger cohorts to validate these findings are warranted to address the lack of power in this present study and to confirm the wording and justification of a three-day recall period for the FLIE.
INTRODUCTION: The Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program (RRRP) is an outpatient radiotherapy clinic for palliative cancer patients where consultation, planning, and radiation treatment can take place in 1 day, allowing for rapid access to care. The objective of this study was to compare the patient population and overall survival of patients seen in the RRRP from 2014 to 2017 to that of patients seen in 1999.
METHOD: Patient characteristics including sex, primary cancer site, sites of metastases, and Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) were recorded at each clinic visit. Date of death (DOD) was retrieved from the Patient Care System (PCS) and Excelicare. To show overall survival from the first clinic visit, a Kaplan-Meier overall survival curve was generated in all patients from 2014 to 2017.
RESULTS: Five hundred ninety-six patients were included in the final analysis. Most patients were male (n = 347) with a primary cancer site of the lung (n = 165) and metastases to the bone (n = 475). Actuarial median overall survival was 15.3 months. In 1999, 395 patients were analyzed, in which a primary of the lung (n = 143) and metastases to the bone (n = 277) were the most prevalent. An additional 72 patients in this population had brain metastases. The actuarial median survival of the 1999 population was 4.5 months.
CONCLUSION: The changing patient population in the RRRP has resulted in visible changes in survival. This may reflect differences in the proportion of patients with specific primaries and sites of metastases, as well as improvements in the availability of palliative radiation over the last two decades.
PURPOSE: To identify symptom clusters in advanced cancer patients attending a palliative radiotherapy clinic using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS).
METHODS: Principal component analysis (PCA), exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) were used to identify symptom clusters among the nine ESAS items using scores from each patient's first visit.
RESULTS: ESAS scores from 182 patients were analyzed. The PCA identified three symptom clusters (cluster 1: depression-anxiety-well-being, cluster 2: pain-tiredness-drowsiness, cluster 3: nausea-dyspnea-loss of appetite). The EFA identified two clusters (cluster 1: tiredness-drowsiness-loss of appetite-well-being-pain-nausea-dyspnea, cluster 2: depression-anxiety). The HCA identified three clusters similar to the PCA with an exception of the loss of appetite item being classified under cluster 1 rather than 3. Two to three symptom clusters were identified using three analytical methods, with similar patterns reported in the literature. Particular groups of items co-occurred consistently across all three analyses: depression and anxiety; nausea and dyspnea; as well as pain, tiredness, and drowsiness.
CONCLUSION: Three similar symptom clusters were identified in our patient population using the PCA and HCA; whereas, the EFA produced two clusters: one physical and one psychological cluster. Given the implications of symptom clusters in the management of quality of life, clinicians should be aware of these clusters to aid in the palliative treatment of patients.