Publications by authors named "Neil K Aaronson"

259 Publications

Design of a multinational randomized controlled trial to assess the effects of structured and individualized exercise in patients with metastatic breast cancer on fatigue and quality of life: the EFFECT study.

Trials 2022 Jul 29;23(1):610. Epub 2022 Jul 29.

Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 85500, 3508, GA, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Background: Many patients with metastatic breast cancer experience cancer- and treatment-related side effects that impair activities of daily living and negatively affect the quality of life. There is a need for interventions that improve quality of life by alleviating fatigue and other side effects during palliative cancer treatment. Beneficial effects of exercise have been observed in the curative setting, but, to date, comparable evidence in patients with metastatic breast cancer is lacking. The aim of this study is to assess the effects of a structured and individualized 9-month exercise intervention in patients with metastatic breast cancer on quality of life, fatigue, and other cancer- and treatment-related side effects.

Methods: The EFFECT study is a multinational, randomized controlled trial including 350 patients with metastatic breast cancer. Participants are randomly allocated (1:1) to an exercise or control group. The exercise group participates in a 9-month multimodal exercise program, starting with a 6-month period where participants exercise twice a week under the supervision of an exercise professional. After completing this 6-month period, one supervised session is replaced by one unsupervised session for 3 months. In addition, participants are instructed to be physically active for ≥30 min/day on all remaining days of the week, while being supported by an activity tracker and exercise app. Participants allocated to the control group receive standard medical care, general written physical activity advice, and an activity tracker, but no structured exercise program. The primary outcomes are quality of life (EORTC QLQ-C30, summary score) and fatigue (EORTC QLQ-FA12), assessed at baseline, 3, 6 (primary endpoint), and 9 months post-baseline. Secondary outcomes include physical fitness, physical performance, physical activity, anxiety, depression, pain, sleep problems, anthropometric data, body composition, and blood markers. Exploratory outcomes include quality of working life, muscle thickness, urinary incontinence, disease progression, and survival. Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of the exercise program is assessed. Adherence and safety are monitored throughout the intervention period.

Discussion: This large randomized controlled trial will provide evidence regarding the (cost-) effectiveness of exercise during treatment of metastatic breast cancer. If proven (cost-)effective, exercise should be offered to patients with metastatic breast cancer as part of standard care.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04120298 . Registered on October 9, 2019.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13063-022-06556-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9335464PMC
July 2022

Physical Activity and Cardiac Function in Long-Term Breast Cancer Survivors: A Cross-Sectional Study.

JACC CardioOncol 2022 Jun 19;4(2):183-191. Epub 2022 Apr 19.

Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Background: Higher levels of physical activity are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in the general population. Whether the same holds for women who underwent treatment for breast cancer is unclear.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between physical activity in a typical week in the past 12 months and cardiac dysfunction in breast cancer survivors.

Methods: We used data from a cohort of breast cancer survivors who were treated at ages 40 to 50 years (N = 559). The association between physical activity and global longitudinal strain (GLS) and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was evaluated using both linear and modified Poisson regression analyses adjusted for relevant confounders.

Results: In total, 559 breast cancer survivors were included, with median age of 55.5 years and a median time since treatment of 10.2 years. GLS was less favorable in inactive survivors (-17.1%) than in moderately inactive (-18.4%), moderately active (-18.2%), and active survivors (-18.5%), with an adjusted significant difference for active versus inactive survivors (β = -1.31; 95% CI: -2.55 to -0.06)). Moderately active (n = 57/130) and active survivors (n = 87/124) had significantly lower risks of abnormal GLS (defined as >-18%) compared with inactive survivors (n = 17/26) (RR: 0.65 [95% CI: 0.45-0.94] and RR: 0.61 [95% CI: 0.43-0.87], respectively). LVEF, in normal ranges in all activity categories, was not associated with physical activity.

Conclusions: In long-term breast cancer survivors, higher physical activity levels were associated with improved GLS but not LVEF, with the relatively largest benefit for doing any activity versus none. This finding suggests that increasing physical activity may contribute to cardiovascular health benefits, especially in inactive survivors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaccao.2022.02.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9270603PMC
June 2022

Specialist versus Primary Care Prostate Cancer Follow-Up: A Process Evaluation of a Randomized Controlled Trial.

Cancers (Basel) 2022 Jun 28;14(13). Epub 2022 Jun 28.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is currently comparing the effectiveness of specialist- versus primary care-based prostate cancer follow-up. This process evaluation assesses the reach and identified constructs for the implementation of primary care-based follow-up. A mixed-methods approach is used to assess the reach and the implementation through the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. We use quantitative data to evaluate the reach of the RCT and qualitative data (interviews) to indicate the perspectives of patients ( = 15), general practitioners (GPs) ( = 10), and specialists ( = 8). Thematic analysis is used to analyze the interview transcripts. In total, we reached 402 (67%) patients from 12 hospitals and randomized them to specialist- ( = 201) or to primary care-based ( = 201) follow-up. From the interviews, we identify several advantages of primary care- versus specialist-based follow-up: it is closer to home, more accessible, and the relationship is more personal. Nevertheless, participants also identified challenges: guidelines should be implemented, communication and collaboration between primary and secondary care should be improved, quality indicators should be collected, and GPs should be compensated. Within an RCT context, 402 (67%) patients and their GPs were willing to receive/provide primary care-based follow-up. If the RCT shows that primary care is equally as effective as specialist-based follow-up, the challenges identified in this study need to be addressed to enable a smooth transition of prostate cancer follow-up to primary care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers14133166DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9264897PMC
June 2022

Construct Validity of the Steep Ramp Test for Assessing Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Patients With Breast Cancer and the Effect of Chemotherapy-Related Symptom Burden.

Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2022 Jun 19. Epub 2022 Jun 19.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Center for Quality of Life, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Center of Expertise Urban Vitality, Faculty of Health, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

Objective: To investigate the construct validity of the Steep Ramp Test (SRT) by longitudinally comparing the correlation between maximum short exercise capacity of the SRT and direct measurements of peak oxygen consumption (Vopeak) during or shortly after treatment in patients with breast cancer and the potential effect of chemotherapy-induced symptom burden.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Multicenter.

Participants: We used data from 2 studies that included women with breast cancer treated with chemotherapy, resulting in 274 observations. A total of 161 patients (N=161) performed the cardiopulmonary exercise test and the SRT in 2 test sessions on different time points around chemotherapy treatment.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main Outcome Measures: Fatigue was assessed with the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory, and nausea and vomiting and pain by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30. The longitudinal correlation between the maximum short exercise capacity and Vopeak was investigated using a linear mixed model. Interaction terms were added to the model to investigate whether the correlation varied by symptom burden.

Results: We found a statistically significant moderate correlation between Vopeak and maximum short exercise capacity (0.61; 95% confidence interval, 0.51-0.70; P<.01) over time. This correlation was slightly attenuated (-0.07; 95% confidence interval, -0.13 to 0.00; P=.04) in patients with chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, indicating smaller correlations of Vopeak with the maximum short exercise capacity with increasing symptom burden. Pain and fatigue did not significantly modify the correlation.

Conclusions: The SRT can only be used as a proxy for changes in aerobic capacity with great caution and with attention for the level of nausea and vomiting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2022.05.014DOI Listing
June 2022

Correction to: Phase III study of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life cancer survivorship core questionnaire.

J Cancer Surviv 2022 Mar 11. Epub 2022 Mar 11.

Division of Psychosocial Research & Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11764-022-01199-8DOI Listing
March 2022

Quality of Life Is Associated With Survival in Patients With Gastric Cancer: Results From the Randomized CRITICS Trial.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2022 03;20(3):261-267

Department of Radiation Oncology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam.

Background: The evaluation of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in clinical trials has become increasingly important because it addresses the impact of treatment from the patient's perspective. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the effect of postoperative chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy (CRT) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and surgery with extended (D2) lymphadenectomy on HRQoL in the CRITICS trial. Second, we investigated the potential prognostic value of pretreatment HRQoL on event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS).

Patients And Methods: Patients in the CRITICS trial were asked to complete HRQoL questionnaires (EORTC Quality-of-Life Questionnaire-Core 30 and Quality-of-Life Questionnaire gastric cancer-specific module) at baseline, after preoperative chemotherapy, after surgery, after postoperative chemotherapy or CRT, and at 12 months follow-up. Patients with at least 1 evaluable questionnaire (645 of 788 randomized patients) were included in the HRQoL analyses. The predefined endpoints included dysphagia, pain, physical functioning, fatigue, and Quality-of-Life Questionnaire-Core 30 summary score. Linear mixed modeling was used to assess differences over time and at each time point. Associations of baseline HRQoL with EFS and OS were investigated using multivariate Cox proportional hazards analyses.

Results: At completion of postoperative chemo(radio)therapy, the chemotherapy group had significantly better physical functioning (P=.02; Cohen's effect size = 0.42) and less dysphagia (P=.01; Cohen's effect size = 0.38) compared with the CRT group. At baseline, worse social functioning (hazard ratio [HR], 2.20; 95% CI, 1.36-3.55; P=.001), nausea (HR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.39-2.56; P<.001), worse WHO performance status (HR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.13-2.13; P=.007), and histologic subtype (diffuse vs intestinal: HR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.42-2.67; P<.001; mixed vs intestinal: HR, 2.35; 95% CI, 1.35-4.12; P=.003) were significantly associated with worse EFS and OS.

Conclusions: In the CRITICS trial, the chemotherapy group had significantly better physical functioning and less dysphagia after postoperative treatment. HRQoL scales at baseline were significantly associated with EFS and OS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2021.7057DOI Listing
March 2022

Phase III study of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life cancer survivorship core questionnaire.

J Cancer Surviv 2022 Jan 27. Epub 2022 Jan 27.

, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to develop a European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Group (EORTC QLG) questionnaire that captures the full range of physical, mental, and social health-related quality of life (HRQOL) issues relevant to disease-free cancer survivors. In this phase III study, we pretested the provisional core questionnaire (QLQ-SURV111) and aimed to identify essential and optional scales.

Methods: We pretested the QLQ-SURV111 in 492 cancer survivors from 17 countries with one of 11 cancer diagnoses. We applied the EORTC QLG decision rules and employed factor analysis and item response theory (IRT) analysis to assess and, where necessary, modify the hypothesized questionnaire scales. We calculated correlations between the survivorship scales and the QLQ-C30 summary score and carried out a Delphi survey among healthcare professionals, patient representatives, and cancer researchers to distinguish between essential and optional scales.

Results: Fifty-four percent of the sample was male, mean age was 60 years, and, on average, time since completion of treatment was 3.8 years. Eleven items were excluded, resulting in the QLQ-SURV100, with 12 functional and 9 symptom scales, a symptom checklist, 4 single items, and 10 conditional items. The essential survivorship scales consist of 73 items.

Conclusions: The QLQ-SURV100 has been developed to assess comprehensively the HRQOL of disease-free cancer survivors. It includes essential and optional scales and will be validated further in an international phase IV study.

Implications For Cancer Survivors: The availability of this questionnaire will facilitate a standardized and robust assessment of the HRQOL of disease-free cancer survivors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11764-021-01160-1DOI Listing
January 2022

Physical Fitness and Chemotherapy Tolerance in Patients with Early-Stage Breast Cancer.

Med Sci Sports Exerc 2022 04;54(4):537-542

Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the NETHERLANDS.

Introduction: An optimal relative dose intensity (RDI) of adjuvant chemotherapy is associated with better survival in patients with breast cancer. Little is known about the role of physical fitness in attaining an adequate RDI in patients with early-stage breast cancer. We investigated the association between pretreatment physical fitness and RDI in this population.

Methods: We pooled individual patient data from two randomized exercise trials that studied exercise programs in early breast cancer: the Physical Exercise During Adjuvant Chemotherapy Effectiveness Study (n = 230) and the Physical Activity during Chemotherapy Treatment (n = 204) study. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between pretreatment fitness and achieving an optimal RDI (≥85%). In addition, we added an interaction term to the model to explore the potential moderating effect of participating in an exercise program.

Results: Data were available for 419 patients (mean age at diagnosis, 50.0 ± 8.6 yr). In the total sample, lower pretreatment physical fitness was associated with significantly lower odds of achieving ≥85% RDI: age-adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 0.66 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.46-0.94). In patients allocated to the supervised exercise intervention during chemotherapy (n = 173), the association between pretreatment physical fitness and RDI was almost completely mitigated (OR, 0.95 (95% CI, 0.54-1.56)), whereas it was more pronounced in patients who received care as usual (n = 172; OR, 0.31 (95% CI, 0.13-0.63); Pinteraction = 0.022).

Conclusions: Early-stage breast cancer patients with relatively lower levels of pretreatment physical fitness have lower odds of achieving an optimal dose of chemotherapy. Given that physical fitness is modifiable and our results suggest that following a moderate-to-high intensity exercise training during chemotherapy could improve treatment completion, clinicians should not refrain from referring patients to supportive exercise programs because of low fitness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000002828DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8920022PMC
April 2022

Investigating Trends in the Quality of Reporting of Patient-Reported Outcomes in Oncology Over Time: Analysis of 631 Randomized Controlled Trials Published Between 2004 and 2019.

Value Health 2021 12 9;24(12):1715-1719. Epub 2021 Aug 9.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Objectives: Incomplete reporting of key information on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in oncology has been highlighted repeatedly as a major barrier to the use of study findings in clinical practice. We investigated whether the quality of reporting of PRO data in cancer RCTs has improved over the last 15 years.

Methods: We identified all cancer RCTs with PRO endpoints conducted across the most prevalent solid tumor types worldwide published between 2004 and 2019. The quality of PRO reporting was assessed using the International Society for Quality of Life Research recommended standards, which include important aspects related to assessment methodology, statistical analyses, and interpretation of data.

Results: We assessed a total of 631 cancer RCTs in breast (n = 187), lung (n = 131), prostate (n = 120), colorectal (n = 107), and gynecological (n = 86) cancer. We observed a higher adherence to the International Society for Quality of Life Research reporting criteria in the more recently published studies. In a multivariable linear regression analysis, we observed a statistically significant improvement in the quality of PRO reporting over time (P<.001), and this relationship was independent of other measured confounding factors, such as sample size and study sponsorship. Overall, the quality of PRO reporting was higher for studies published after the publication of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials-PRO Extension.

Conclusions: The quality of PRO reporting in cancer RCTs published in the last 15 years has improved significantly. Our findings are encouraging because better reporting of PRO results may translate into a greater impact of study findings on real-world practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jval.2021.06.003DOI Listing
December 2021

A prospective prostate cancer screening programme for men with pathogenic variants in mismatch repair genes (IMPACT): initial results from an international prospective study.

Lancet Oncol 2021 11 19;22(11):1618-1631. Epub 2021 Oct 19.

University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK; Wessex Clinical Genetics Service, Princess Anne Hospital, Southampton, UK.

Background: Lynch syndrome is a rare familial cancer syndrome caused by pathogenic variants in the mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, or PMS2, that cause predisposition to various cancers, predominantly colorectal and endometrial cancer. Data are emerging that pathogenic variants in mismatch repair genes increase the risk of early-onset aggressive prostate cancer. The IMPACT study is prospectively assessing prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening in men with germline mismatch repair pathogenic variants. Here, we report the usefulness of PSA screening, prostate cancer incidence, and tumour characteristics after the first screening round in men with and without these germline pathogenic variants.

Methods: The IMPACT study is an international, prospective study. Men aged 40-69 years without a previous prostate cancer diagnosis and with a known germline pathogenic variant in the MLH1, MSH2, or MSH6 gene, and age-matched male controls who tested negative for a familial pathogenic variant in these genes were recruited from 34 genetic and urology clinics in eight countries, and underwent a baseline PSA screening. Men who had a PSA level higher than 3·0 ng/mL were offered a transrectal, ultrasound-guided, prostate biopsy and a histopathological analysis was done. All participants are undergoing a minimum of 5 years' annual screening. The primary endpoint was to determine the incidence, stage, and pathology of screening-detected prostate cancer in carriers of pathogenic variants compared with non-carrier controls. We used Fisher's exact test to compare the number of cases, cancer incidence, and positive predictive values of the PSA cutoff and biopsy between carriers and non-carriers and the differences between disease types (ie, cancer vs no cancer, clinically significant cancer vs no cancer). We assessed screening outcomes and tumour characteristics by pathogenic variant status. Here we present results from the first round of PSA screening in the IMPACT study. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00261456, and is now closed to accrual.

Findings: Between Sept 28, 2012, and March 1, 2020, 828 men were recruited (644 carriers of mismatch repair pathogenic variants [204 carriers of MLH1, 305 carriers of MSH2, and 135 carriers of MSH6] and 184 non-carrier controls [65 non-carriers of MLH1, 76 non-carriers of MSH2, and 43 non-carriers of MSH6]), and in order to boost the sample size for the non-carrier control groups, we randomly selected 134 non-carriers from the BRCA1 and BRCA2 cohort of the IMPACT study, who were included in all three non-carrier cohorts. Men were predominantly of European ancestry (899 [93%] of 953 with available data), with a mean age of 52·8 years (SD 8·3). Within the first screening round, 56 (6%) men had a PSA concentration of more than 3·0 ng/mL and 35 (4%) biopsies were done. The overall incidence of prostate cancer was 1·9% (18 of 962; 95% CI 1·1-2·9). The incidence among MSH2 carriers was 4·3% (13 of 305; 95% CI 2·3-7·2), MSH2 non-carrier controls was 0·5% (one of 210; 0·0-2·6), MSH6 carriers was 3·0% (four of 135; 0·8-7·4), and none were detected among the MLH1 carriers, MLH1 non-carrier controls, and MSH6 non-carrier controls. Prostate cancer incidence, using a PSA threshold of higher than 3·0 ng/mL, was higher in MSH2 carriers than in MSH2 non-carrier controls (4·3% vs 0·5%; p=0·011) and MSH6 carriers than MSH6 non-carrier controls (3·0% vs 0%; p=0·034). The overall positive predictive value of biopsy using a PSA threshold of 3·0 ng/mL was 51·4% (95% CI 34·0-68·6), and the overall positive predictive value of a PSA threshold of 3·0 ng/mL was 32·1% (20·3-46·0).

Interpretation: After the first screening round, carriers of MSH2 and MSH6 pathogenic variants had a higher incidence of prostate cancer compared with age-matched non-carrier controls. These findings support the use of targeted PSA screening in these men to identify those with clinically significant prostate cancer. Further annual screening rounds will need to confirm these findings.

Funding: Cancer Research UK, The Ronald and Rita McAulay Foundation, the National Institute for Health Research support to Biomedical Research Centres (The Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust; Oxford; Manchester and the Cambridge Clinical Research Centre), Mr and Mrs Jack Baker, the Cancer Council of Tasmania, Cancer Australia, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Cancer Council of Victoria, Cancer Council of South Australia, the Victorian Cancer Agency, Cancer Australia, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC), the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER), the Institut Català de la Salut, Autonomous Government of Catalonia, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, Swedish Cancer Society, General Hospital in Malmö Foundation for Combating Cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00522-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8576477PMC
November 2021

Characteristics of Participants and Nonparticipants in a Blended Internet-Based Physical Activity Trial for Breast and Prostate Cancer Survivors: Cross-sectional Study.

JMIR Cancer 2021 Oct 5;7(4):e25464. Epub 2021 Oct 5.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Background: As the number of cancer survivors is increasing, it is important to be able to offer exercise and physical activity (PA)-promoting interventions that are both effective and reasonably accessible. Internet-based interventions are typically less expensive and more accessible alternatives to on-site supervised interventions. Currently, little is known about the characteristics of nonparticipants in PA promotion trials in the cancer survivorship setting, both in general and specifically in trials using internet-supported interventions.

Objective: This study aims to gain insight into the characteristics associated with nonparticipation in a blended internet-based supported intervention trial to promote PA.

Methods: Breast and prostate cancer survivors, 3-36 months after primary curative treatment, were invited to participate in the PABLO trial; this trial compared an internet-based intervention to enhance PA levels, with or without additional support from a physical therapist, to usual care. Participants and nonparticipants were asked to complete a comprehensive questionnaire assessing sociodemographics, fatigue, and health-related quality of life. Baseline data for participants and nonparticipants were compared using the independent Student t test and chi-square test.

Results: The inclusion rate in the trial was 11.03% (137/1242). Of the nonparticipants, 13.95% (154/1104) completed the questionnaire. Participants were more highly educated (P=.04), had a paid job less often (P=.03), and were on sick leave more often (P=.03). They reported less PA per week, both moderate (P=.03) and vigorous (P<.01), before diagnosis and during leisure time (P<.01, effect size [ES]=0.44). They reported a significantly lower stage of change (P≤.01), lower self-efficacy (P<.01, ES=0.61), perceived barriers to PA (P<.01, ES=0.54), and more general fatigue (P<.01, ES=0.60). Participants reported lower health-related quality of life for most domains (ES ranging from 0.34 for mental health to 0.48 for social functioning). No significant differences were found for other sociodemographics, mood state, or attitudes toward or perceived social support for PA.

Conclusions: The participants who self-selected for trial participation reported lower PA levels before diagnosis and a stronger need for support compared with nonparticipants. The trial thus included those patients who might benefit the most from internet-based supportive PA interventions.

Trial Registration: Netherlands trial register NTR6911; https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/6733.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/25464DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8527379PMC
October 2021

Validation and reliability of the Dutch version of the EORTC QLQ-NMIBC24 Questionnaire Module for patients with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer.

J Patient Rep Outcomes 2021 Sep 20;5(1):96. Epub 2021 Sep 20.

Department for Health Evidence, Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, Radboud University Medical Center, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Background: The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) quality of life questionnaire for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (QLQ-NMIBC24) has been available and applied for some years now, but has yet to undergo a full comprehensive psychometric evaluation. The aim of this study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Dutch version of the EORTC QLQ-NMIBC24 questionnaire in patients with low, intermediate and high risk NMIBC.

Methods: We included patients newly diagnosed with NMIBC participating in the multicenter, population-based prospective cohort studies UroLife or BlaZIB. Psychometric evaluation included examination of the structural validity, reliability (i.e. internal consistency and test-retest reliability), construct validity (i.e. divergent validity and known-groups validity), responsiveness and interpretability.

Results: A total of 1463 patients who completed the baseline questionnaire of UroLife (n = 541, response rate 50%) or BlaZIB (n = 922, response rate 58%) were included. The percentage of missing responses were low for all non-sex related scales (< 1%) and ranged between 6.9% to 50.0% for sex-related scales. More than 15% of the patients obtained the lowest possible scores on nearly each scale (floor effect). The structural validity was adequate; the confirmatory factor analysis showed satisfactory results and all items of multiple items scales had higher within- than between-scale correlations. Reliability of the questionnaire was adequate for most multiple item scales (Cronbach's α ≥ 0.70 and intraclass correlation coefficient ≥ 0.70), with exception of the scales 'malaise' and 'bloating and flatulence'. The questionnaire also showed good construct validity; it showed low correlations with the items of the EORTC core questionnaire and was able to measure differences between risk-based subgroups. The responsiveness of the questionnaire was good, but the interpretability, i.e. minimal important change, could not be determined.

Conclusions: This study shows that the measurement properties of the EORTC QLQL-NMIBC24 are good; it has a good structural validity, reliability (i.e. internal consistency and test-retest reliability), construct validity (i.e. divergent validity and known-group validity), and responsiveness. Interpretability could not be assessed. This questionnaire can be used to measure and monitor health-related quality of life of patients with NMIBC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s41687-021-00372-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8452806PMC
September 2021

SYMptom monitoring with Patient-Reported Outcomes using a web application among patients with Lung cancer in the Netherlands (SYMPRO-Lung): study protocol for a stepped-wedge randomised controlled trial.

BMJ Open 2021 09 13;11(9):e052494. Epub 2021 Sep 13.

Department for Health Evidence, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, Gelderland, The Netherlands.

Introduction: Lung cancer and its treatment cause a wide range of symptoms impacting the patients' health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The use of patient-reported outcomes (PRO) to monitor symptoms during and after cancer treatment has been shown not only to improve symptom management but also to improve HRQoL and overall survival (OS). Collectively, these results favour implementation of PRO-symptom monitoring in daily clinical care. However, these promising outcomes have been obtained under trial conditions in which patients were selected based on stringent inclusion criteria, and in countries with a dissimilar healthcare system than in the Netherlands.The primary aim of the SYMptom monitoring with Patient-Reported Outcomes using a web application among patients with Lung cancer in the Netherlands (SYMPRO-Lung) study is to evaluate the effect of PRO-symptom monitoring during and after lung cancer treatment on HRQoL in daily clinical practice. Secondary objectives include assessing the effect of PRO-symptom monitoring on progression-free survival, OS, the incidence and grade of PRO symptoms, medication adherence, implementation fidelity and cost-effectiveness.

Methods And Analysis: The SYMPRO-Lung study is a prospective, multicentre trial with a stepped wedge cluster randomised design. Study participants (n=292 intervention, n=292 controls) include patients with lung cancer (stages I-IV) starting treatment with surgery, systemic treatment, targeted treatment and/or radiotherapy.Every participating centre will consecutively switch from the control period to the intervention period, in which patients report their symptoms weekly via an online tool. In the intervention group, we evaluate two alert approaches: the active and reactive approach. If the symptoms exceed a predefined threshold, an alert is sent to the healthcare provider (active approach) or to the patient (reactive approach). Both the control and intervention group complete HRQoL questionnaires at 4 time points: at baseline, 15 weeks, 6 months and 1-year post treatment). Differences in HRQoL between the groups will be compared using linear mixed modelling analyses, accounting for within-centre clustering, potential time effects and confounding.

Ethics And Dissemination: The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board and the Medical Ethics Committee of the Amsterdam UMC (under number NL 68440.029.18) and the institutional review boards of the participating study sites. The dissemination of the results will be conducted through publication in peer-reviewed journals and through scientific conferences.

Trial Registration Number: Trial register identifier: Netherlands Trial register Trial NL7897. Date of registration: 24 July 2019. https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/7897.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-052494DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8438957PMC
September 2021

Impact of Blinding on Patient-Reported Outcome Differences Between Treatment Arms in Cancer Randomized Controlled Trials.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2022 03;114(3):471-474

University Hospital of Psychiatry II, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Some concerns have been raised about potential bias in patient-reported outcome (PRO) results from open-label cancer randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We investigated if open-label trials favor the experimental treatment over the standard treatment more frequently than blinded trials. We also examined if the effect of blinding differs for distal vs more proximal PROs. We assessed 538 RCTs with a PRO endpoint conducted in the most prevalent cancers, of which 366 (68.0%) were open-label, 148 (27.5%) were blinded, and 24 (4.5%) were categorized as unclear. In our multivariable logistic regression model, we did not observe a statistically significant association of the independent variable treatment concealment (blinded vs open-label) on the dependent variable measuring the proportion of trials favoring the experimental treatment (adjusted odds ratio = 1.19, 95% confidence interval = 0.79 to 1.79; 2-sided P = .40). This was also the case when comparing distal and proximal PROs. Our findings provide novel evidence-based data that support the validity of PRO results from open-label cancer RCTs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djab177DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8902340PMC
March 2022

Efficacy of Physical Exercise to Offset Anthracycline-Induced Cardiotoxicity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical and Preclinical Studies.

J Am Heart Assoc 2021 09 2;10(17):e021580. Epub 2021 Sep 2.

Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care University Medical Center UtrechtUtrecht University Utrecht The Netherlands.

Background Physical exercise is an intervention that might protect against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. In this meta-analysis and systematic review, we aimed to estimate the effect of exercise on doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity and to evaluate mechanisms underlying exercise-mediated cardioprotection using (pre)clinical evidence. Methods and Results We conducted a systematic search in PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) databases. Cochrane's and Systematic Review Centre for Laboratory Animal Experimentation (SYRCLE) risk-of-bias tools were used to assess the validity of human and animal studies, respectively. Cardiotoxicity outcomes reported by ≥3 studies were pooled and structured around the type of exercise intervention. Forty articles were included, of which 3 were clinical studies. Overall, in humans (sample sizes ranging from 24 to 61), results were indicative of exercise-mediated cardioprotection, yet they were not sufficient to establish whether physical exercise protects against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. In animal studies (n=37), a pooled analysis demonstrated that forced exercise interventions significantly mitigated in vivo and ex vivo doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity compared with nonexercised controls. Similar yet slightly smaller effects were found for voluntary exercise interventions. We identified oxidative stress and related pathways, and less doxorubicin accumulation as mechanisms underlying exercise-induced cardioprotection, of which the latter could act as an overarching mechanism. Conclusions Animal studies indicate that various exercise interventions can protect against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in rodents. Less doxorubicin accumulation in cardiac tissue could be a key underlying mechanism. Given the preclinical evidence and limited availability of clinical data, larger and methodologically rigorous clinical studies are needed to clarify the role of physical exercise in preventing cardiotoxicity in patients with cancer. Registration URL: https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero; Unique identifier: CRD42019118218.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.021580DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8649276PMC
September 2021

Oncology team perspectives on distress screening: a multisite study of a well-established use of patient-reported outcomes for clinical assessment.

Support Care Cancer 2022 Feb 1;30(2):1261-1271. Epub 2021 Sep 1.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Purpose: Cancer care team attitudes towards distress screening are key to its success and sustainability. Previous qualitative research has interviewed staff mostly around the startup phase. We evaluate oncology teams' perspectives on psychosocial distress screening, including perceived strengths and challenges, in settings where it has been operational for years.

Methods: We conducted, transcribed, and analyzed semi-structured interviews with 71 cancer care team members (e.g., MDs, RNs, MSWs) at 18 Commission on Cancer-accredited cancer programs including those serving underrepresented populations.

Results: Strengths of distress screening identified by participants included identifying patient needs and testing provider assumptions. Staff indicated it improved patient-provider communication and other aspects of care. Challenges to distress screening included patient barriers (e.g., respondent burden) and lack of electronic system interoperability. Participants expressed the strengths of distress screening (n = 291) more than challenges (n = 86). Suggested improvements included use of technology to collect data, report results, and make referrals; complete screenings prior to appointments; longitudinal assessment; additional staff training; and improve resources to address patient needs.

Conclusion: Cancer care team members' perspectives on well-established distress screening programs largely replicate findings of previous studies focusing on the startup phase, but there are important differences: team members expressed more strengths than challenges, suggesting a positive attitude. While our sample described many challenges described previously, they did not indicate challenges with scoring and interpreting the distress screening questionnaire. The differences in attitudes expressed in response to mature versus startup implementations provide important insights to inform efforts to sustain and optimize distress screening.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06458-5DOI Listing
February 2022

Does exercise intensity matter for fatigue during (neo-)adjuvant cancer treatment? The Phys-Can randomized clinical trial.

Scand J Med Sci Sports 2021 May 2;31(5):1144-1159. Epub 2021 Mar 2.

Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Exercise during cancer treatment improves cancer-related fatigue (CRF), but the importance of exercise intensity for CRF is unclear. We compared the effects of high- vs low-to-moderate-intensity exercise with or without additional behavior change support (BCS) on CRF in patients undergoing (neo-)adjuvant cancer treatment. This was a multicenter, 2x2 factorial design randomized controlled trial (Clinical Trials NCT02473003) in Sweden. Participants recently diagnosed with breast (n = 457), prostate (n = 97) or colorectal (n = 23) cancer undergoing (neo-)adjuvant treatment were randomized to high intensity (n = 144), low-to-moderate intensity (n = 144), high intensity with BCS (n = 144) or low-to-moderate intensity with BCS (n = 145). The 6-month exercise intervention included supervised resistance training and home-based endurance training. CRF was assessed by Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI, five subscales score range 4-20), and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue scale (FACIT-F, score range 0-52). Multiple linear regression for main factorial effects was performed according to intention-to-treat, with post-intervention CRF as primary endpoint. Overall, 577 participants (mean age 58.7 years) were randomized. Participants randomized to high- vs low-to-moderate-intensity exercise had lower physical fatigue (MFI Physical Fatigue subscale; mean difference -1.05 [95% CI: -1.85, -0.25]), but the difference was not clinically important (ie <2). We found no differences in other CRF dimensions and no effect of additional BCS. There were few minor adverse events. For CRF, patients undergoing (neo-)adjuvant treatment for breast, prostate or colorectal cancer can safely exercise at high- or low-to-moderate intensity, according to their own preferences. Additional BCS does not provide extra benefit for CRF in supervised, well-controlled exercise interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sms.13930DOI Listing
May 2021

Long-Term Morbidity and Health After Early Menopause Due to Oophorectomy in Women at Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer: Protocol for a Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study With Prospective Follow-Up (HARMOny Study).

JMIR Res Protoc 2021 Jan 22;10(1):e24414. Epub 2021 Jan 22.

Department of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Background: BRCA1/2 mutation carriers are recommended to undergo risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) at 35 to 45 years of age. RRSO substantially decreases ovarian cancer risk, but at the cost of immediate menopause. Knowledge about the potential adverse effects of premenopausal RRSO, such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cognitive dysfunction, and reduced health-related quality of life (HRQoL), is limited.

Objective: The aim of this study is to assess the long-term health effects of premenopausal RRSO on cardiovascular disease, bone health, cognitive functioning, urological complaints, sexual functioning, and HRQoL in women with high familial risk of breast or ovarian cancer.

Methods: We will conduct a multicenter cross-sectional study with prospective follow-up, nested in a nationwide cohort of women at high familial risk of breast or ovarian cancer. A total of 500 women who have undergone RRSO before 45 years of age, with a follow-up period of at least 10 years, will be compared with 250 women (frequency matched on current age) who have not undergone RRSO or who have undergone RRSO at over 55 years of age. Participants will complete an online questionnaire on lifestyle, medical history, cardiovascular risk factors, osteoporosis, cognitive function, urological complaints, and HRQoL. A full cardiovascular assessment and assessment of bone mineral density will be performed. Blood samples will be obtained for marker analysis. Cognitive functioning will be assessed objectively with an online neuropsychological test battery.

Results: This study was approved by the institutional review board in July 2018. In February 2019, we included our first participant. As of November 2020, we had enrolled 364 participants in our study.

Conclusions: Knowledge from this study will contribute to counseling women with a high familial risk of breast/ovarian cancer about the long-term health effects of premenopausal RRSO. The results can also be used to offer health recommendations after RRSO.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03835793; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03835793.

International Registered Report Identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/24414.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/24414DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7864779PMC
January 2021

Moderators of the effect of psychosocial interventions on fatigue in women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer: Individual patient data meta-analyses.

Psychooncology 2020 11 3;29(11):1772-1785. Epub 2020 Sep 3.

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Objective: Psychosocial interventions can reduce cancer-related fatigue effectively. However, it is still unclear if intervention effects differ across subgroups of patients. These meta-analyses aimed at evaluating moderator effects of (a) sociodemographic characteristics, (b) clinical characteristics, (c) baseline levels of fatigue and other symptoms, and (d) intervention-related characteristics on the effect of psychosocial interventions on cancer-related fatigue in patients with non-metastatic breast and prostate cancer.

Methods: Data were retrieved from the Predicting OptimaL cAncer RehabIlitation and Supportive care (POLARIS) consortium. Potential moderators were studied with meta-analyses of pooled individual patient data from 14 randomized controlled trials through linear mixed-effects models with interaction tests. The analyses were conducted separately in patients with breast (n = 1091) and prostate cancer (n = 1008).

Results: Statistically significant, small overall effects of psychosocial interventions on fatigue were found (breast cancer: β = -0.19 [95% confidence interval (95%CI) = -0.30; -0.08]; prostate cancer: β = -0.11 [95%CI = -0.21; -0.00]). In both patient groups, intervention effects did not differ significantly by sociodemographic or clinical characteristics, nor by baseline levels of fatigue or pain. For intervention-related moderators (only tested among women with breast cancer), statistically significant larger effects were found for cognitive behavioral therapy as intervention strategy (β = -0.27 [95%CI = -0.40; -0.15]), fatigue-specific interventions (β = -0.48 [95%CI = -0.79; -0.18]), and interventions that only targeted patients with clinically relevant fatigue (β = -0.85 [95%CI = -1.40; -0.30]).

Conclusions: Our findings did not provide evidence that any selected demographic or clinical characteristic, or baseline levels of fatigue or pain, moderated effects of psychosocial interventions on fatigue. A specific focus on decreasing fatigue seems beneficial for patients with breast cancer with clinically relevant fatigue.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pon.5522DOI Listing
November 2020

Calculating the net clinical benefit in neuro-oncology clinical trials using two methods: quality-adjusted survival effect sizes and joint modeling.

Neurooncol Adv 2020 Jan-Dec;2(1):vdaa147. Epub 2020 Oct 29.

Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Background: Two methods combining survival and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) data in glioma trials to calculate the "net clinical benefit" were evaluated: Quality-adjusted effect sizes (QASES) and joint modeling (JM).

Methods: The net clinical benefit in two trials was calculated as proof of concept for other trials. With the QASES method, effect sizes for differences in progression-free survival (PFS) or overall survival (OS) and HRQoL between the experimental arm and standard treatment arm were calculated, while the relative emphasis placed on survival/HRQoL varied. JM allows simultaneous modeling of HRQoL and OS/PFS.

Results: In the EORTC 26951 trial, combined radiochemotherapy significantly prolonged OS (difference 11.7 months), but also resulted in more patients experiencing clinically relevant worsening (≥10 points) in appetite loss and nausea/vomiting shortly after treatment. Using QASES, the survival benefit of additional procarbazine, lomustine, and vincristine (PCV) decreased from 42.3 months to 29.5 and 28.2 months when accounting for appetite loss and nausea/vomiting, respectively. JM analyses resulted in a loss of the beneficial effect of additional PCV between 13% and 24% when adjusting for different HRQoL parameters. The EORTC 22033 trial showed no significant PFS difference between radiotherapy or temozolomide alone (46 vs 39 months), nor clinically relevant differences in HRQoL. JM analyses also showed no significant association between PFS and HRQoL scales/items, whereas QASES showed that temozolomide alone was more favorable when considering symptom burden (47-49 instead of 39 months).

Conclusions: Both methods resulted in different outcomes, but adjusting for the impact of treatment on HRQoL resulted in theoretically reduced survival benefits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/noajnl/vdaa147DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7772555PMC
October 2020

Measuring change in health-related quality of life: the impact of different analytical methods on the interpretation of treatment effects in glioma patients.

Neurooncol Pract 2020 Dec 7;7(6):668-675. Epub 2020 Jun 7.

Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Background: Different analytical methods may lead to different conclusions about the impact of treatment on health-related quality of life (HRQoL). This study aimed to examine 3 different methods to evaluate change in HRQoL and to study whether these methods result in different conclusions.

Methods: HRQoL data from 15 randomized clinical trials were combined (CODAGLIO project). Change in HRQoL scores, measured with the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 and BN20 questionnaires, was analyzed in 3 ways: (1) at the group level, comparing mean changes in scale/item scores between treatment arms, (2) at the patient level per scale/item, calculating the percentage of patients that deteriorated, improved, or remained stable per scale/item, and (3) at the individual patient level, combining all scales/items.

Results: Baseline and first follow-up HRQoL data were available for 3727 patients. At the group scale/item level, only the item "hair loss" showed a significant and clinically relevant change (ie, ≥10 points) over time, whereas change scores on the other scales/items were statistically significant only (all  < .001; range in change score, 0.1-6.2). Although a large proportion of patients had stable HRQoL over time (range, 27%-84%) on the patient level per scale/item, many patients deteriorated (range, 6%-43%) or improved (range, 8%-32%) on a specific scale/item. At the individual patient level, the majority of patients (86%) showed both deterioration and improvement, whereas only 1% remained stable on all scales.

Conclusions: Different analytical methods of changes in HRQoL result in distinct conclusions of treatment effects, all of which may be relevant for informing clinical decision making.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nop/npaa033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7716184PMC
December 2020

Dutch translation and linguistic validation of the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Patient-Reported Outcomes version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (PRO-CTCAE™).

J Patient Rep Outcomes 2020 Oct 6;4(1):81. Epub 2020 Oct 6.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Background: The U.S. National Cancer Institute's Patient-Reported Outcomes version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (PRO-CTCAE™) is a library of items for assessing symptomatic adverse events by patient self-report in oncology trials. The aim of this multi-site study was to generate and linguistically validate a Dutch language version of the U.S. PRO-CTCAE for use in the Netherlands and Dutch-speaking Belgium.

Methods: All 124 items in the PRO-CTCAE item library were translated into Dutch using established translation procedures, including dual forward translations, reconciliation, back-translation, reconciliation of the source with the back-translation, and expert reviews. Harmonization of the translation for use in both the Netherlands and Belgium was achieved via an iterative review process in which the translations were discussed and reconciled by consensus of PRO experts, clinicians and bilingual Dutch translators. The translated PRO-CTCAE™ items were completed by a geographically-diverse sample of Dutch speaking patients from the Netherlands (n = 40) and Belgium (n = 60), and who were currently receiving or who had recently completed cancer-directed therapy. Patients were diverse with respect to age, sex, educational attainment, and cancer diagnosis. Cognitive debriefing, using a semi-structured interview guide, probed for comprehension and clarity of PRO-CTCAE symptom terms, attributes (e.g. frequency, severity, interference), response choices, and understanding of 'at its worst' and 'in the last 7 days'. Items for which the patient data indicated possible difficulties were considered for revision.

Results: Three items underwent minor phrasing revision and retesting was not deemed necessary. The symptom term for stretch marks was poorly understood by 12.5% of participants, and this item was revised to include parenthetical phrasing. It was retested with 10 participants from Belgium (n = 5) and the Netherlands (n = 5) and demonstrated acceptable comprehension.

Conclusions: The Dutch language version of PRO-CTCAE has been successfully developed and linguistically validated for use in oncology studies in the Netherlands and Dutch-speaking Belgium. Extending the availability of NCI PRO-CTCAE in languages beyond English increases international consistency in the capture of Patient-Reported outcomes in patients participating in cancer clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s41687-020-00249-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7538479PMC
October 2020

Evaluating the Thresholds for Clinical Importance of the EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL in Patients Receiving Palliative Treatment.

J Palliat Med 2021 03 24;24(3):397-404. Epub 2020 Aug 24.

University Hospital of Psychiatry II, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

The EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL is a shortened version of the widely used EORTC QLQ-C30. This questionnaire was developed to measure the symptoms and functional health of patients receiving palliative care. To enhance clinical interpretability of the EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL, our aim was to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of thresholds for clinical importance developed previously for the QLQ-C30 when applied to the QLQ-C15-PAL scales. Cross-sectional observational study. Patients with cancer receiving any type of palliative treatment. Patients completed the EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL and anchor items on limitations, worries, and need for help for each of the health domains covered by the questionnaire. The anchor items were summarized in a binary criterion for clinical importance to calculate the sensitivity and specificity of the thresholds for clinical importance. In total, 225 patients participated in the study (mean age 64.5 years). Patients were recruited from Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The thresholds for clinical importance for the QLQ-C15-PAL scales showed a median sensitivity of 0.88 (range: 0.82 for sleep disturbances to 1.00 for dyspnea) and a median specificity of 0.74 (range: 0.54 for dyspnea to 0.89 for constipation). The thresholds for clinical importance showed high sensitivity and mostly high specificity in identifying clinically important symptoms and functional health impairments as assessed by the QLQ-C15-PAL. These thresholds will facilitate interpretation of EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL scores in daily clinical practice and clinical research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2020.0159DOI Listing
March 2021

Towards a cancer mission in Horizon Europe: recommendations.

Mol Oncol 2020 08;14(8):1589-1615

European Cancer Patient Coalition, Brussels, Belgium.

A comprehensive translational cancer research approach focused on personalized and precision medicine, and covering the entire cancer research-care-prevention continuum has the potential to achieve in 2030 a 10-year cancer-specific survival for 75% of patients diagnosed in European Union (EU) member states with a well-developed healthcare system. Concerted actions across this continuum that spans from basic and preclinical research through clinical and prevention research to outcomes research, along with the establishment of interconnected high-quality infrastructures for translational research, clinical and prevention trials and outcomes research, will ensure that science-driven and social innovations benefit patients and individuals at risk across the EU. European infrastructures involving comprehensive cancer centres (CCCs) and CCC-like entities will provide researchers with access to the required critical mass of patients, biological materials and technological resources and can bridge research with healthcare systems. Here, we prioritize research areas to ensure a balanced research portfolio and provide recommendations for achieving key targets. Meeting these targets will require harmonization of EU and national priorities and policies, improved research coordination at the national, regional and EU level and increasingly efficient and flexible funding mechanisms. Long-term support by the EU and commitment of Member States to specialized schemes are also needed for the establishment and sustainability of trans-border infrastructures and networks. In addition to effectively engaging policymakers, all relevant stakeholders within the entire continuum should consensually inform policy through evidence-based advice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/1878-0261.12763DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400777PMC
August 2020

A cost-effective approach to increasing participation in patient-reported outcomes research in cancer: A randomized trial of video invitations.

Int J Cancer 2021 02 21;148(4):971-980. Epub 2020 Sep 21.

Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.

Maximizing participation in cancer research is important to improve the validity and generalizability of research findings. We conducted a four-arm randomized controlled trial to test the impact of a novel video invitation on participant response. We invited childhood cancer survivors and parents of survivors <16 years to complete questionnaires. We compared response rates to an invitation letter (control) vs receiving the letter plus a video invitation on a flash drive presented by a childhood cancer survivor, a pediatric oncologist or a researcher. We explored factors associated with viewing the video and examined the impact of enclosing the USB on study costs. Overall 54% (634/1176) of questionnaires were returned. Participants who received a video invitation on a USB were more likely to return the questionnaire than those who did not (58% vs 47%, P < .001). Participation rate did not significantly differ by video presenter. Forty-seven percent of participants who received a USB reported watching the video, of whom 48% reported that the video influenced their decision to participate. Participants with a lower income (OR = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.25-0.74, P = .002) were more likely to report watching the video. Participants who received a video invitation required significantly fewer reminder calls than those who only received a written invitation (mean = 1.6 vs 1.1 calls, P < .001), resulting in a 25% recruitment cost-saving for the study. Adding a USB with a video study invitation to recruitment packages is a cost-effective way of improving study participation. This is important in an era of declining study participation and underrepresentation of vulnerable populations in research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.33244DOI Listing
February 2021

Design of the PROstate cancer follow-up care in Secondary and Primary hEalth Care study (PROSPEC): a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of primary care-based follow-up of localized prostate cancer survivors.

BMC Cancer 2020 Jul 8;20(1):635. Epub 2020 Jul 8.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066, Amsterdam, CX, The Netherlands.

Background: In its 2006 report, From cancer patient to cancer survivor: lost in transition, the U.S. Institute of Medicine raised the need for a more coordinated and comprehensive care model for cancer survivors. Given the ever increasing number of cancer survivors, in general, and prostate cancer survivors, in particular, there is a need for a more sustainable model of follow-up care. Currently, patients who have completed primary treatment for localized prostate cancer are often included in a specialist-based follow-up care program. General practitioners already play a key role in providing continuous and comprehensive health care. Studies in breast and colorectal cancer suggest that general practitioners could also consider to provide survivorship care in prostate cancer. However, empirical data are needed to determine whether follow-up care of localized prostate cancer survivors by the general practitioner is a feasible alternative.

Methods: This multicenter, randomized, non-inferiority study will compare specialist-based (usual care) versus general practitioner-based (intervention) follow-up care of prostate cancer survivors who have completed primary treatment (prostatectomy or radiotherapy) for localized prostate cancer. Patients are being recruited from hospitals in the Netherlands, and randomly (1:1) allocated to specialist-based (N = 195) or general practitioner-based (N = 195) follow-up care. This trial will evaluate the effectiveness of primary care-based follow-up, in comparison to usual care, in terms of adherence to the prostate cancer surveillance guideline for the timing and frequency of prostate-specific antigen assessments, the time from a biochemical recurrence to retreatment decision-making, the management of treatment-related side effects, health-related quality of life, prostate cancer-related anxiety, continuity of care, and cost-effectiveness. The outcome measures will be assessed at randomization (≤6 months after treatment), and 12, 18, and 24 months after treatment.

Discussion: This multicenter, prospective, randomized study will provide empirical evidence regarding the (cost-) effectiveness of specialist-based follow-up care compared to general practitioner-based follow-up care for localized prostate cancer survivors.

Trial Registration: Netherlands Trial Registry, Trial NL7068 (NTR7266). Prospectively registered on 11 June 2018.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-020-07112-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346492PMC
July 2020

Time to health-related quality of life improvement analysis was developed to enhance evaluation of modern anticancer therapies.

J Clin Epidemiol 2020 11 18;127:9-18. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

Italian Group for Adult Hematologic Diseases (GIMEMA) Data Center and Health Outcomes Research Unit, Rome, Italy; Department of Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.

Objectives: Major advances have recently been made in the treatments of cancer, which now also have the potential to improve patients' health-related quality of life (HRQOL). We propose the time to HRQOL improvement (TTI) and the time to sustained HRQOL improvement (TTSI) as potentially important cancer outcomes to be used in longitudinal HRQOL analyses.

Study Design And Setting: As proof of principle, we defined TTI and TTSI, using the Fine-Gray model to include competing risks in estimates, in a case study in real life of a cohort of newly diagnosed patients with cancer receiving a targeted therapy. HRQOL was evaluated before and during therapy with six assessments over a 24-month period, using the well-validated European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30.

Results: For each assessed HRQOL domain, we assessed TTI and TTSI and estimated the cumulative incidence of patients' clinically meaningful improvements, also accounting for the occurrence of competing events.

Conclusion: TTI and TTSI are potentially important outcomes in the era of modern anticancer therapies. The analysis of TTI and TTSI by competing risks approach will further add to the statistical methods that can be used to inform on the impact of cancer therapies on patients' HRQOL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2020.06.016DOI Listing
November 2020

Differences in Patient-Reported Outcomes That Are Most Frequently Detected in Randomized Controlled Trials in Patients With Solid Tumors: A Pooled Analysis of 229 Trials.

Value Health 2020 05 25;23(5):666-673. Epub 2020 Apr 25.

Italian Group for Adult Hematologic Diseases, Data Center and Health Outcomes Research Unit, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Objectives: Patient-reported outcome (PRO) measurements used in cancer research can assess a number of health domains. Our primary objective was to investigate which broad types of PRO domains (namely, functional health, symptoms, and global quality of life [QoL]) most frequently yielded significant differences between treatments in randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Methods: A total of 229 RCTs published between January 2004 and February 2019, conducted on patients diagnosed with the most common solid malignancies and assessed using the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life Questionnaire (QLQ)-C30, were considered. Studies were identified systematically using literature searches in key electronic databases. Unlike other PRO measurements typically used in RCTs, the scoring algorithm of the multidimensional EORTC QLQ-C30 allowed us to clearly distinguish the 3 broad types of PRO domains.

Results: In total, 134 RCTs (58.5%) reported statistically significant differences between treatment arms for at least 1 of the QLQ-C30 domains. Most frequently, differences were reported for 2 or all 3 broad types of PRO domains (78 of 134 trials; 58.2%). In particular, 35 trials (26.1%) found significant differences for symptoms, functional health, and global QoL, 24 trials (17.9%) for symptoms and functional health, 11 trials (8.2%) for functional health and global QoL, and 8 trials (6.0%) for symptoms and global QoL. The likelihood of finding a statistically significant difference between treatment arms was not associated with key study characteristics, such as study design (ie, open-label vs blinded trials) and industry support.

Conclusions: Our findings emphasize the importance of a multidimensional PRO assessment to most comprehensively capture the overall burden of therapy from the patients' standpoint.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jval.2020.02.007DOI Listing
May 2020

Unmet expectations in prostate cancer patients and their association with decision regret.

J Cancer Surviv 2020 10 8;14(5):731-738. Epub 2020 May 8.

Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Purpose: Information about prostate cancer patients' experiences with their treatment is crucial to optimize shared decision-making. This study examined unmet expectations in prostate cancer patients and their association with decision regret.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, observational, multi-center study of men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer between 2014 and 2016. Questionnaires were completed at baseline (pre-treatment), and up to 12 months after treatment. Unmet expectations were reported as the proportion of patients who experienced side effects as worse than expected. Linear regression analysis was used to identify factors associated significantly (p ≤ 0.05) with unmet expectations and its association with decision regret.

Results: At 1-year follow-up, the majority of the patients (71%, 210/296) reported at least one unmet expectation. The proportion of patients who reported worse than expected erectile problems was 56%, recovery period = 29%, urinary problems = 28%, fatigue = 24%, and bowel problems = 17%. Unmet expectations were comparable between treatment groups, except for fatigue. A passive role in the decision-making process (eta squared (η) = 0.02) and higher scores on the decisional conflict scale (η = 0.02) were associated with more unmet expectations, and unmet expectations were associated with decision regret (η = 0.08).

Conclusions: Unmet expectations are common among men treated for localized prostate cancer. Involving patients in the treatment decision-making process and offering additional counseling to patients who indicate uncertainty about their decision, may help to avoid unmet expectations.

Implications For Cancer Survivors: The current study emphasizes the need for involving prostate cancer patients in the decision-making process in order to mitigate unmet expectations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11764-020-00888-6DOI Listing
October 2020

The EORTC QLQ-C30 Summary Score as Prognostic Factor for Survival of Patients with Cancer in the "Real-World": Results from the Population-Based PROFILES Registry.

Oncologist 2020 04 31;25(4):e722-e732. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Department of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Background: Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) has been shown to be a prognostic factor for cancer survival in randomized clinical trials and observational "real-world" cohort studies; however, it remains unclear which HRQoL domains are the best prognosticators. The primary aims of this population-based, observational study were to (a) investigate the association between the novel European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core30 (QLQ-C30) summary score and all-cause mortality, adjusting for the more traditional sociodemographic and clinical prognostic factors; and (b) compare the prognostic value of the QLQ-C30 summary score with the global quality of life (QoL) and physical functioning scales of the QLQ-C30.

Materials And Methods: Between 2008 and 2015, patients with cancer (12 tumor types) were invited to participate in PROFILES disease-specific registry studies (response rate, 69%). In this secondary analysis of 6,895 patients, multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to investigate the association between the QLQ-C30 scores and all-cause mortality.

Results: In the overall Cox regression model including sociodemographic and clinical variables, the QLQ-C30 summary score was associated significantly with all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 0.77; 99% confidence interval [CI], 0.71-0.82). In stratified analyses, significant associations between the summary score and all-cause mortality were observed for colon, rectal, and prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and multiple myeloma. The QLQ-C30 summary score had a stronger association with all-cause mortality than the global QoL scale (HR, 0.82; 99% CI, 0.77-0.86) or the physical functioning scale (HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.77-0.85).

Conclusion: In a real-world setting, the QLQ-C30 summary score has a strong prognostic value for overall survival for a number of populations of patients with cancer above and beyond that provided by clinical and sociodemographic variables. The QLQ-C30 summary score appears to have more prognostic value than the global QoL, physical functioning, or any other scale within the QLQ-C30.

Implications For Practice: The finding that health-related quality of life provides distinct prognostic information beyond known sociodemographic and clinical measures, not only around cancer diagnosis (baseline) but also at follow-up, has implications for clinical practice. Implementation of cancer survivorship monitoring systems for ongoing surveillance may improve post-treatment rehabilitation that leads to better outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0348DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7160310PMC
April 2020
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