What Questions are Important to Newly-Diagnosed Pancreatic Cancer Patients?

Cancer


In a recent study, researchers aim to identify what information is most important to pancreatic cancer patients following their diagnosis.

While the prognosis for pancreatic cancer patients has been improving with time, the disease is still considered to be incurable. Moreover, the life expectancy and quality of life for people diagnosed depends heavily on the stage of pancreatic cancer. With the challenges of early detection, patients are often diagnosed at later stages, resulting in a poor prognosis. There is currently very little that can be done clinically to help pancreatic cancer patients in regards to a cure or even reliable diagnosis.

It has, therefore, become increasingly pressing to find other ways to help pancreatic cancer patients and to figure out the best ways to help them cope with the disease. The best way to try and resolve how to help patients is to ask them their opinions on what can be offered to them.

Previous research has shown that one of the best ways to help patients dealing with any disease is to provide critical information right after initial diagnosis. This helps to curb anxiety and stress they may feel with the new diagnosis and gives them a sense of what they should be expecting moving forward in their battle. Research has shown that this is an area that could be improved for pancreatic cancer patients.

A study that was conducted in the Netherlands by Lisa Ronde-Schoone and a group of researchers aimed to identify what information is most important to pancreatic cancer patients, especially the first few weeks following their diagnosis. The study was published recently in Applied Cancer Research.

For the study, they created a two-part survey that was completed by a total of 47 patients. The survey began with questions about the patients’ personal situation, including age, gender, level of education, time of diagnosis, and treatments received, or about to be received. This was followed by questions that asked participants about the first few weeks after initial diagnosis. The researchers asked the participants to think back to the time right after diagnosis and to rate a list of questions on their level of importance from 1 to 7.

Patients who finished the survey one year or more after their diagnosis were not included in the analysis. The average of importance scores was used to rank the questions in order of most important to least.

Half of the questions that were presented in the survey were of great importance (received a score of 6 or greater on the scale). There was no bias on age or gender on the scoring of these questions. Issues that were considered of great importance included the diagnosis, the chances of being cured, the treatment options that are available, surgeries/ procedures that may be undertaken, prognosis and their quality of life. It is apparent that pancreatic cancer patients view a variety of issues and topics extremely important to be addressed after their diagnosis.

This study emphasizes the need for doctors and health care providers to be concise and available to provide information in order to provide patients with the best quality of life and to relieve anxiety and stress. In addition, these findings could be used to guide those that are working with pancreatic cancer patients regarding information that they need to present and how they could possibly prepare themselves to provide critical and extremely important information to their patients.

Written by Ingrid Qemo, BSc.

Reference:

Ronde-Schoone, L.J., Pek, C.J., Swijnenburg, R.J., and Pieterse, A.H. 2017. What questions are most important to pancreatic cancer patients soon after diagnosis? A multicenter survey. Applied Cancer Research. 37:32. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41241-017-0038-4



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