Symptom Burden, Relationships, and Health Care Communication: Considerations for Lung Cancer Survivorship


From May 31st through June 4th, the Cancer Support Community will be in Chicago, IL at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Conference. As part of this conference, our Research and Training Institute (RTI) released findings of a study on over 200 adult patients with a diagnosis of lung cancer. Below is a post from the research team about the significance of their findings for the lung cancer community.

CHICAGO, IL - At the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Conference, scientists, clinicians, advocates, and pharmaceutical representatives come together to teach, engage, and reflect on the changing landscape of cancer care. We are excited to release new findings from our Cancer Experience Registry®’s lung cancer specialty registry as part of this important conference. Our research, entitled “Predictors of Anxiety and Depression Risk among Individuals with Lung Cancer,” examines areas of concern for lung cancer survivors and how these areas of concern are related to risk for depression and anxiety. Research in this area is particularly important given that improved survival rates among lung cancer patients often coincide with long-term symptom burden and quality of life concerns, as well as enduring distress.

What did we do?

Using our CancerSupportSource® distress screening tool, we explored participants’ cancer-related concern over five key areas: emotional well-being, symptom burden and impact, body image and healthy lifestyle, health care team communication, and relationships and intimacy. We then examined whether those concerns are associated with individual risk for clinical anxiety and depression.

What did we find?

Our results show that, among the over 200 individuals with lung cancer who participated, concerns about symptom burden and impact and concerns about health care team communication are associated with risk for clinical depression. We also learned that concerns about relationship and intimacy are associated with risk for clinical anxiety. Finally, we learned that among people living with non-small cell lung cancer, concerns about health care team communication, including treatment decision-making, are associated with risk for clinical anxiety.

What comes next?

Our findings show that risk for clinical depression and anxiety are related to lung cancer patients’ concerns around symptom burden and impact, relationships and intimacy, and health care team communication. Special attention to relationship concerns may be needed for individuals living with non-small cell lung cancer. Individuals diagnosed with lung cancer may benefit from integrated psychosocial, educational, and supportive resources. To this end, Cancer Support Community offers a variety of resources to assist patients in learning how to effectively communicate with their health care team, including around making a treatment decision, through our Open to Options® program. Additionally, we offer advice on improving sexual intimacy after cancer in addition to other resources on managing quality of life concerns.

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.