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Quality of life 'as important as quantity of life' for cancer survivors

Washington , Sat, 28 Apr 2012 ANI

Washington, Apr 28 (ANI): Researchers have stressed on the importance of gathering data about cancer patients' quality of life during both treatment and survivorship.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers' focus is on gathering and using that data to develop interventions to improve the quality of life for patients in treatment and for cancer survivors.

"Among the several research goals of the Department of Health Outcomes 'n' Behaviors is the evaluation and improvement of quality of life and quality of care," said department chair Thomas H. Brandon, Ph.D.

"We aim to understand and improve a patient's quality of life throughout the disease course by identifying clinical practices and health outcomes that can inform our efforts to improve the quality of cancer care."

"The question of how well people are surviving cancer is as important as how long they survive cancer," said lead author Paul. B. Jacobsen, Ph.D., associate center director for Population Science, and Heather S.L. Jim, Ph.D., of Health Outcomes 'n' Behaviors.

Assessment of quality of life factors is important, said the authors, but many of the measurements for assessing quality of life, particularly for cancer survivors, need development.

"Quality of life is a multidimensional construct about daily functioning - from physical to social - which is most often assessed by patient self-report," Jim said.

"It is important that clinical trials include quality of life as an endpoint because if two treatments are found to work equally well, the treatment that offers the best quality of life for cancer survivors should be prescribed."

In a recent study, researchers from Moffitt found that when patients treated with chemotherapy or chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer were compared to a control group who had not had cancer, the patients who had experienced chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy had more fatigue.

These patients also had fatigue that lasted years after their therapy.

One variable that could have affected the group with prolonged fatigue, noted the researchers, was a lack of supportive care, such as exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Interventions such as these could have an impact on patient fatigue and thus help improve quality of life, they noted.

In a study published recently, Moffitt researchers who teamed with colleagues at five universities across the United States concluded that psychosocial interventions could have an effect on patient's pain severity during cancer treatment.

When they analyzed 37 past studies, the researchers found that the most successful psychosocial, nonpharmacological interventions were skill-based or educational.

When Moffitt researchers Jacobsen and Brian D. Gonzalez, M.A., of Health Outcomes 'n' Behavior, studied depression among patients with lung cancer, they found that perceived stigma related to their disease corresponded to greater levels of depression, and that patients with depression had more "dysfunctional attitudes."

The aim of the study, according to Gonzalez, was to examine rates of social rejection, financial insecurity, internalized shame and social isolation, and develop psychosocial interventions for depression.

"Therapy that focuses on altering the patient's thoughts and feelings associated with their perceptions of stigma could prove effective in reducing symptoms of depression and improve patient quality of life," Gonzalez added. (ANI)


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