On September 26, 2018 we presented new research findings on a study of 150 adult lung cancer survivors at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 2018 World Conference on Lung Cancer in Toronto, Canada. Below is a post about the significance of these findings and future directions in cancer survivorship research.
At the 2018 World Conference on Lung Cancer in Toronto, scientists, clinicians, advocates, and pharmaceutical representatives from across the globe came together to reflect on the changing landscape of lung cancer care. Witnessing this diverse group of experts come together with a common goal called attention to the strong multidisciplinary approach of treating cancer. The conference featured surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, and medical oncologists who are passionately and commendably devoted to improving the care received by lung cancer patients. Their innovation and determination are advancing cancer care, improving survival rates, and reducing treatment toxicities for those impacted by lung cancer in demonstrable ways.
Still, while clear advances have certainly been made in treatment and survival, there remains a critical need to better understand the quality of life implications of survivorship. We applaud the multidisciplinary approach of cancer care, and also advocate strongly for an even more comprehensive view of treating patients, above and beyond the treatment of their disease. We appreciate the importance of hearing the patient voice and understand the relationship between cancer experience and treatment and psychosocial health.
As such, amidst the excitement of the conference, we proudly presented a poster, prepared alongside colleagues from the Research & Training Institute, on the psychosocial impact of symptom burden (things like number of comorbidities, physical functioning, fatigue, and pain interference) in lung cancer survivors. We used patient-reported data on health-related quality of life and clinical history from approximately 150 lung cancer survivors who participated in the Cancer Experience Registry® (a web-based research initiative available to those affected by cancer that attempts to capture how cancer affects relationships, work, finances, distress levels, treatment, and other psychosocial concerns). Overall, our results showed that a substantial proportion of lung cancer survivors experience worse health-related quality of life compared to the general U.S. population. Symptom burden—effects of fatigue and pain, in particular—was associated with elevated levels of anxiety and depression among lung cancer survivors. These results point to the need for more comprehensive symptom management throughout survivorship care, including increased access to palliative care and supportive care services.
As multidisciplinary and far-reaching as cancer care has become, evidenced most recently by the hundreds of international attendees at the World Lung Conference with diverse backgrounds and training, there is progress yet to be made in terms of providing patients and survivors with the psychosocial support they desperately need. Data from the Cancer Experience Registry® shows that quality of life is a priority for patients throughout their cancer experience. As we continue to make strides in the wider cancer care community towards improving therapies and increasing survivorship, we must also strive to better understand the long-term quality of life concerns that survivors face.
You can view the poster from this conference here.
Share Your Experience
At the Cancer Support Community, innovative patient-focused research is at the heart of what we do. We can’t accomplish this without insight from patients, and that is why we ask patients, survivors, and caregivers of all cancer diagnoses to share their stories by participating in the Cancer Experience Registry®, a free, confidential survey that is open to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or provides care to someone with cancer.
Participate in the Cancer Experience Registry® here.