The Intersection of Long-Term Symptom Management and Distress in Gastric Cancer


On January 17th, 2019 the Research and Training Institute (RTI) presented findings of a study on 72 adult patients with a diagnosis of stomach, esophageal, or GIST cancer at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Below is a post from the research team about the significance of their findings for the gastric cancer community.

By Kevin Stein, PhD and Kelly Clark

With snow in Philadelphia’s forecast, the RTI set their sights on the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and the 2019 annual ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium (ASCO-GI) in San Francisco. The Symposium is a three-day meeting during which scientists and clinicians gather to discuss cutting-edge research on gastrointestinal cancers. The Executive Director of the RTI, Kevin Stein, was in attendance and presented a poster on the first day of the conference highlighting recent research findings from the Cancer Experience Registry.  

Our research, entitled “Predictors of distress among individuals with gastric cancer,” examined psychosocial distress and areas of concern among gastric cancer patients. Research in this area is particularly important given that improved survival rates among gastric cancer patients often coincide with long-term quality of life concerns. For example, survivors frequently report worries about how to manage persistent symptoms or how to keep up with their social activities in the face of continued health concerns.

In order to determine whether this prolonged experience with cancer-related symptoms might also impact distress, we used data on gastric cancer patients’ symptom burden, body/healthy lifestyle, healthcare team communication, and relationship concerns to predict the likelihood of clinically significant levels of depression and anxiety within this population.


Our results show that gastric cancer patients who report relationship concerns were more likely to face risk for clinically significant levels of anxiety and depression. Additionally, healthcare team communication and symptom burden concerns were also associated with anxiety and depression risk. Taken together, our results highlight the need for constructive patient-provider communication, particularly around relationships and symptoms. Furthermore, gastric cancer patients may benefit from additional psychosocial resources to help them manage long-term health concerns.

The poster from this conference can be viewed 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.