Lung Cancer-Specific Distress Screening Tool Not Needed But Has Potential Benefit

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Psychosocial consequences of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment are not disease-specific.
Psychosocial consequences of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment are not disease-specific.

Patients with lung cancer have higher reported levels of psychosocial problems compared to patients with other cancers. According to a recent study published in Supportive Care in Cancer, although these patients cope with a range of psychosocial consequences, those consequences do not seem to be specific to lung cancer.

In this study, the consequences of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment were evaluated, with the objective of determining the need for a lung-cancer specific screening instrument to assess patient distress. The researchers held focus group meetings with patients undergoing various types of treatment for lung cancer to discuss their psychological and social experiences. Based on these discussions, the authors identified major themes that were then re-evaluated in a subsequent focus group.

Patient-reported psychosocial consequences included frustration due to physical limitation, fear of recurrence, sadness about leaving loved ones behind, and disappointment with social support. The most prominent concerns among patients was a fear of recurrence/metastasis as well as insecurity about the future. Insecurity about the future was most pronounced in patients receiving palliative treatment. All patients indicated a need for family support during treatment.

None of the themes were unique to lung cancer. However, the authors still recommend developing a lung-cancer specific screening instrument. “The current standard for screening is considered insufficiently sensitive, and a stepped screening approach with specific screening tools and a clinical interview is suggested as usual care,” concluded the researchers.

Reference

Looijmans M, van Manen AS, Traa MJ, Kloover JS, Kessels BLJ, de Vries J. Psychosocial consequences of diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer and evaluation of the need for a lung cancer specific instrument using focus group methodology. Support Care Cancer. 2018;26(12):4177-4185.

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