Publications by authors named "Ryan D Nipp"

97 Publications

Communicating the Information Needed for Treatment Decision Making Among Patients With Pancreatic Cancer Receiving Preoperative Therapy.

JCO Oncol Pract 2021 Oct 7:OP2100388. Epub 2021 Oct 7.

Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Purpose: Preoperative therapy for pancreatic cancer represents a new treatment option with the potential to improve outcomes for patients, yet with complex risks. By not discussing the potential risks and benefits of new treatment options, clinicians may hinder patients from making informed decisions.

Methods: From 2017 to 2019, we conducted a mixed-methods study. First, we elicited clinicians' (n = 13 medical, radiation, and surgery clinicians), patients' (n = 18), and caregivers' (n = 14) perceptions of information needed for decision making regarding preoperative therapy and generated a list of key elements. Next, we audio-recorded patients' (n = 20) initial multidisciplinary oncology visits and used qualitative content analyses to describe how clinicians discussed this information and surveyed patients to ask if they heard each key element.

Results: We identified 13 key elements of information patients need when making decisions regarding preoperative therapy, including treatment complications, alternatives, logistics, and potential outcomes. Patients reported hearing infrequently about complications (eg, hospitalizations [n = 3 of 20]) and alternatives (n = 8 of 20) but frequently recalled logistics and potential outcomes (eg, likelihood of surgery [n = 19 of 20]). Clinicians infrequently discussed complications (eg, hospitalizations [n = 7 of 20]), but frequently discussed alternatives, logistics, and potential outcomes (eg, likelihood of surgery [n = 20 of 20]). No overarching differences in clinician discussion content emerged to explain why patients did or did not hear about each key element.

Conclusion: We identified key elements of information patients with pancreatic cancer need when considering preoperative therapy. Patients infrequently heard about treatment complications and alternatives, while frequently hearing about logistics and potential outcomes, underscoring areas for improvement in educating patients about new treatment options in oncology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/OP.21.00388DOI Listing
October 2021

Financial Burden of Drugs Prescribed for Cancer-Associated Symptoms.

JCO Oncol Pract 2021 Sep 24:OP2100466. Epub 2021 Sep 24.

Department of Health Policy, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN.

Purpose: The financial toxicity of anticancer drugs is well-documented, but little is known about the costs of drugs used to manage cancer-associated symptoms.

Methods: We reviewed relevant guidelines and compiled drugs used to manage seven cancer-associated symptoms (anorexia and cachexia, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, constipation, diarrhea, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, cancer-associated fatigue, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting). Using GoodRx website, we identified the retail price (cash price at retail pharmacies) and lowest price (discounted, best-case scenario of out-of-pocket costs) for patients without insurance for each drug or formulation for a typical fill. We describe lowest prices here.

Results: For anorexia and cachexia, costs ranged from $5 US dollars (USD; generic olanzapine or mirtazapine tablets) to $1,156 USD (brand-name dronabinol solution) and varied widely by formulation of the same drug or dosage: for olanzapine 5 mg, $5 USD (generic tablet) to $239 USD (brand-name orally disintegrating tablet). For chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, costs of duloxetine varied from $12 USD (generic) to $529 USD (brand-name). For constipation, the cost of sennosides or polyethylene glycol was <$15 USD, whereas newer agents such as methylnaltrexone were expensive ($1,001 USD). For diarrhea, the cost of generic loperamide or diphenoxylate-atropine tablets was <$15 USD. For exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, only brand-name formulations were available, range of cost, $1,072 USD-$1,514 USD. For cancer-associated fatigue, the cost of generic dexamethasone or dexmethylphenidate was <$15 USD, whereas brand-name modafinil was more costly ($1,284 USD). For a 4-drug nausea and vomiting prophylaxis regimen, costs ranged from $181 USD to $1,430 USD.

Conclusion: We highlight the high costs of many symptom control drugs and the wide variation in the costs of these drugs. These findings can guide patient-clinician discussions about cost-effectively managing symptoms, while promoting the use of less expensive formulations when possible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/OP.21.00466DOI Listing
September 2021

Leveraging patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in patients with pancreatic cancer: The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) online patient registry experience.

Cancer Med 2021 Sep 3. Epub 2021 Sep 3.

Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) Patient Registry is an online, pancreatic cancer-specific, global registry enabling patients to self-report sociodemographics, disease/management characteristics, and patient-reported outcomes (PROs). We sought to describe the creation, user experience, and research potential of the PanCAN Registry.

Methods: We obtained data to describe (1) the creation of the Registry (questionnaire development, marketing efforts, and regulatory considerations); (2) the user experience (user characteristics and interactions with the registry following inception); and (3) the research potential of the registry (comparing PROs and treatment patterns by age [±65 years] and treatment site [community or academic] for users with de novo metastatic disease).

Results: The Registry was conceived as part of PanCAN's strategic plan for a personalized therapy initiative. PanCAN staff and disease expert consultants developed questionnaires hosted on an electronic PRO platform. Users had the option to include their data in research efforts, and the Registry platform received institutional review board approval. From 7/2015 to 12/2020, 2187 patients visited the registry and 1697 (77.6%) completed at least one survey (median age = 64 years [range: 24-90], 47.9% women, 88.7% White, 34.0% metastatic disease). Among patients with metastatic disease (N = 567), 46.0% were ≥65 years old and 67.5% received treatment at community sites. Patients ≥65 years reported feeling less hopeful about the treatment plan (12.4% vs. 24.3%, p = 0.003), and patients treated at community sites reported more frequent treatment breaks of >2 weeks (58.2% vs. 28.1%, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate the feasibility, usability, and research potential of an online PRO registry for patients with cancer. This description of the PanCAN Registry should inform future registry-building efforts to facilitate standardized PRO reporting and provide a valuable research database.

Clinical Trial Registration Number: Not applicable.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.4257DOI Listing
September 2021

Disparities in phase 1 cancer clinical trial enrollment.

Cancer 2021 Aug 11. Epub 2021 Aug 11.

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: Phase 1 trials are increasingly important in the molecularly driven era of oncology, but few studies have examined phase 1 participation disparities. The authors of this study investigated factors associated with phase 1 versus phase 2/3 trial enrollment.

Methods: They authors conducted a cross-sectional study using serial samples of patients age ≥18 years enrolling on cancer trials from October 2011 to November 2014 at an academic cancer center. They used univariable and multivariable logistic regression models to analyze sociodemographic and clinical associations with phase 1 versus phase 2/3 trial enrollment.

Results: Among 3103 patients enrolled in cancer trials, 2657 unique patients participated in phase 1/2/3 trials. For patients enrolled in phase 1 (n = 1401) versus phase 2/3 (n = 1256) trials, we found no significant differences by age, insurance status, marital status, and income. Overall, 1216 (93%) White, 72 (6%) Asian, and 21 (2%) Black patients enrolled on phase 1 trials, whereas 1068 (93%) White, 40 (3%) Asian, and 43 (4%) Black patients enrolled on phase 2/3 trials. Adjusting for age, sex, race, ethnicity, insurance status, marital status, income, cancer type, disease status, travel distance, and trial year, compared with White patients, Black patients had lower phase 1 enrollment (odds ratio [OR], 0.46; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.25-0.82), as did Hispanic/Latino (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.08-0.79) and male patients (OR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.62-0.94). Asian patients had higher phase 1 enrollment (OR, 1.38; 95% CI, 0.88-2.16).

Conclusions: Disparities in phase 1 versus phase 2/3 cancer clinical trial enrollment underscore the urgent need for interventions addressing inequities in early-phase trial participation.

Lay Summary: Phase 1 trials are of increasing importance in oncology. The authors of the study analyzed all patients enrolling on cancer clinical trials at a large academic cancer center from October 2011 to November 2014. Among the 2657 trial participants, when age, sex, race, ethnicity, insurance status, marital status, income, cancer type, disease status, travel distance, and trial year were taken into account, Black, Hispanic/Latino, and male patients were less likely to enroll on phase 1 trials versus phase 2/3 trials. These findings suggest a need for targeted interventions to improve access to and education about phase 1 trials for Black and Hispanic/Latino patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33853DOI Listing
August 2021

Clinical Outcomes, Treatment Toxicity, and Health Care Utilization in Older Adults with Aggressive Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Oncologist 2021 Jul 29. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Division of Hematology & Oncology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: Although balancing treatment efficacy with risks of complications is critical for older adults with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), few studies have described these patients' clinical outcomes, rates of toxicities, and health care utilization.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of adults ≥65 years diagnosed with aggressive NHL and receiving systemic therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital from April 2000 to July 2020. We abstracted patient characteristics, clinical outcomes, treatment toxicity, unplanned hospitalizations, and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions within 6 months of treatment initiation from the medical record. Using multivariable logistic regression, we examined factors associated with rates of grade 3+ nonhematologic toxicity and unplanned hospitalization.

Results: Among 295 patients (median age, 73 years; 39.0% female), 5-year overall survival (OS) was 74.2%. Five-year OS by age group (65-69, 70-74, 75-79, and 80+ years) was 82.2%, 72.0%, 73.6%, and 66.4%, respectively. Overall, 42.4% experienced grade 3+ toxicity, with 8.1% experiencing grades 4-5. The rates of unplanned hospitalization and ICU admission were 41.0% and 6.1%, respectively. In multivariable analysis, hypoalbuminemia (odds ratio [OR], 4.29; p < .001) and high comorbidity score (OR, 4.22; p < .001) were associated with likelihood of grade 3+ toxicity. Hypoalbuminemia (OR, 2.83; p = .003), high comorbidity score (OR, 3.93; p = .001), and receipt of EPOCH (etoposide, prednisone, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin; OR, 5.45; p = .012) were associated with likelihood of unplanned hospitalization.

Conclusions: The majority of older adults receiving upfront therapy for aggressive NHL survive beyond 5 years, yet nearly half experience substantial treatment toxicities and unplanned hospitalizations. Our findings underscore the need for supportive care interventions to enhance the care experience of this population.

Implications For Practice: The results of this study highlight the potential benefits of intensive chemoimmunotherapy for the majority of older adults with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma, even at advanced ages. Nearly half of older adults experienced substantial treatment toxicities and unplanned hospitalizations, emphasizing the unmet need for supportive care interventions in this population. The present study also identified hypoalbuminemia and patient comorbidity score as factors associated with grade 3+ nonhematologic toxicity and unplanned hospitalization. These findings may guide the development and implementation of targeted supportive care interventions in high-risk older adults with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13915DOI Listing
July 2021

Material, behavioral, and psychological financial hardship among survivors of childhood cancer in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study.

Cancer 2021 Sep 1;127(17):3214-3222. Epub 2021 Jun 1.

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Background: Medical financial burden includes material, behavioral, and psychological hardship and has been underinvestigated among adult survivors of childhood cancer.

Methods: A survey from 698 survivors and 210 siblings from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study was analyzed. The intensity of financial hardship was estimated across 3 domains: 1) material, including conditions that arise from medical expenses; 2) behavioral, including coping behaviors to manage medical expenses; and 3) psychological hardship resulting from worries about medical expenses and insurance, as measured by the number of instances of each type of financial hardship (0, 1-2, and ≥3 instances). Multivariable logistic regressions were conducted to examine the clinical and sociodemographic predictors of experiencing financial hardship (0-2 vs ≥3 instances).

Results: The intensity of financial hardship did not significantly differ between survivors and siblings. Survivors reported more instances of material hardship than siblings (1-2 instances: 27.2% of survivors vs 22.6% of siblings; ≥3 instances: 15.9% of survivors vs 11.4% siblings; overall P = .03). In multivariable regressions, insurance was protective against all domains of financial hardship (behavioral odds ratio [OR], 0.12; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.06-0.22; material OR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.19-0.71; psychological OR, 0.10; 95% CI, 0.05-0.21). Survivors who were older at diagnosis, female, and with chronic health conditions generally had higher levels of hardship. Brain radiation and alkylating agents were associated with higher levels of hardship.

Conclusions: Material, behavioral, and psychological financial burden among survivors of childhood cancer is common.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33613DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8489494PMC
September 2021

Care Patterns and Overall Survival in Patients With Early-Onset Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.

JCO Oncol Pract 2021 May 27:OP2001010. Epub 2021 May 27.

Division of Hematology & Oncology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center & Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Purpose: Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence in patients younger than 50 years of age, commonly defined as early-onset (EO-CRC), is rising. EO-CRC often presents with distinct clinicopathologic features. However, data on prognosis are conflicting and outcomes with modern treatment approaches for metastatic disease are still limited.

Materials And Methods: We prospectively enrolled patients with metastatic CRC (mCRC) to a biobanking and clinical data collection protocol from 2014 to 2018. We grouped the cohort based on age at initial diagnosis: < 40 years, 40-49 years, and ≥ 50 years. We used regression models to examine associations among age at initial diagnosis, treatments, clinicopathologic features, and survival.

Results: We identified 466 patients with mCRC (45 [10%] age < 40 years, 109 [23%] age 40-49 years, and 312 [67%] age ≥ 50 years). Patients < 40 years of age were more likely to have received multiple metastatic resections (odds ratio [OR], 3.533; = .0066) than their older counterparts. Patients with EO-CRC were more likely to receive triplet therapy than patients > 50 years of age (age < 40 years: OR, 6.738; = .0002; age 40-49 years: OR, 2.949; = .0166). Patients 40-49 years of age were more likely to have received anti-EGFR therapy (OR, 2.633; = .0016). Despite differences in care patterns, age did not predict overall survival.

Conclusion: Despite patients with EO-CRC receiving more intensive treatments, survival was similar to the older counterpart. However, EO-CRC had clinical and molecular features associated with worse prognoses. Improved biologic understanding is needed to optimize clinical management of EO-CRC. The cost-benefit ratio of exposing patients with EO-CRC to more intensive treatments has to be carefully evaluated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/OP.20.01010DOI Listing
May 2021

Toward a Science of Personalized Informed Consent in Cancer Clinical Trials.

JCO Oncol Pract 2021 May 11:OP2000975. Epub 2021 May 11.

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/OP.20.00975DOI Listing
May 2021

Minimal Residual Disease Detection using a Plasma-only Circulating Tumor DNA Assay in Patients with Colorectal Cancer.

Clin Cancer Res 2021 Apr 29. Epub 2021 Apr 29.

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Purpose: Detection of persistent circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) after curative-intent surgery can identify patients with minimal residual disease (MRD) who will ultimately recur. Most ctDNA MRD assays require tumor sequencing to identify tumor-derived mutations to facilitate ctDNA detection, requiring tumor and blood. We evaluated a plasma-only ctDNA assay integrating genomic and epigenomic cancer signatures to enable tumor-uninformed MRD detection.

Experimental Design: A total of 252 prospective serial plasma specimens from 103 patients with colorectal cancer undergoing curative-intent surgery were analyzed and correlated with recurrence.

Results: Of 103 patients, 84 [stage I (9.5%), II (23.8%), III (47.6%), IV (19%)] had evaluable plasma drawn after completion of definitive therapy, defined as surgery only ( = 39) or completion of adjuvant therapy ( = 45). In "landmark" plasma drawn 1-month (median, 31.5 days) after definitive therapy and >1 year follow-up, 15 patients had detectable ctDNA, and all 15 recurred [positive predictive value (PPV), 100%; HR, 11.28 ( < 0.0001)]. Of 49 patients without detectable ctDNA at the landmark timepoint, 12 (24.5%) recurred. Landmark recurrence sensitivity and specificity were 55.6% and 100%. Incorporating serial longitudinal and surveillance (drawn within 4 months of recurrence) samples, sensitivity improved to 69% and 91%. Integrating epigenomic signatures increased sensitivity by 25%-36% versus genomic alterations alone. Notably, standard serum carcinoembryonic antigen levels did not predict recurrence [HR, 1.84 ( = 0.18); PPV = 53.9%].

Conclusions: Plasma-only MRD detection demonstrated favorable sensitivity and specificity for recurrence, comparable with tumor-informed approaches. Integrating analysis of epigenomic and genomic alterations enhanced sensitivity. These findings support the potential clinical utility of plasma-only ctDNA MRD detection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-0410DOI Listing
April 2021

Muscle Loss Is Associated with Overall Survival in Patients with Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Independent of Tumor Mutational Status and Weight Loss.

Oncologist 2021 06 6;26(6):e963-e970. Epub 2021 May 6.

Department of Radiology, Division of Thoracic Imaging and Intervention, Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: Survival in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) has been associated with tumor mutational status, muscle loss, and weight loss. We sought to explore the combined effects of these variables on overall survival.

Materials And Methods: We performed an observational cohort study, prospectively enrolling patients receiving chemotherapy for mCRC. We retrospectively assessed changes in muscle (using computed tomography) and weight, each dichotomized as >5% or ≤5% loss, at 3, 6, and 12 months after diagnosis of mCRC. We used regression models to assess relationships between tumor mutational status, muscle loss, weight loss, and overall survival. Additionally, we evaluated associations between muscle loss, weight loss, and tumor mutational status.

Results: We included 226 patients (mean age 59 ± 13 years, 53% male). Tumor mutational status included 44% wild type, 42% RAS-mutant, and 14% BRAF-mutant. Patients with >5% muscle loss at 3 and 12 months experienced worse survival controlling for mutational status and weight (3 months hazard ratio, 2.66; p < .001; 12 months hazard ratio, 2.10; p = .031). We found an association of >5% muscle loss with BRAF-mutational status at 6 and 12 months. Weight loss was not associated with survival nor mutational status.

Conclusion: Increased muscle loss at 3 and 12 months may identify patients with mCRC at risk for decreased overall survival, independent of tumor mutational status. Specifically, >5% muscle loss identifies patients within each category of tumor mutational status with decreased overall survival in our sample. Our findings suggest that quantifying muscle loss on serial computed tomography scans may refine survival estimates in patients with mCRC.

Implications For Practice: In this study of 226 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, it was found that losing >5% skeletal muscle at 3 and 12 months after the diagnosis of metastatic disease was associated with worse overall survival, independent of tumor mutational status and weight loss. Interestingly, results did not show a significant association between weight loss and overall survival. These findings suggest that muscle quantification on serial computed tomography may refine survival estimates in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer beyond mutational status.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13774DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8176987PMC
June 2021

Financial worry and psychological distress among cancer survivors in the United States, 2013-2018.

Support Care Cancer 2021 Sep 16;29(9):5523-5535. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, TX, USA.

Background: A growing proportion of cancer survivors experience financial toxicity. However, the psychological burden of cancer costs and associated mental health outcomes require further investigation. We assessed prevalence and predictors of self-reported financial worry and mental health outcomes among cancer survivors.

Patients And Methods: Data from the 2013-2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for adults reporting a cancer diagnosis were used. Multivariable ordinal logistic regressions defined adjusted odds ratios (AORs) of reporting financial worry by relevant sociodemographic variables, and sample weight-adjusted prevalence of financial worry was estimated. The association between financial worry and psychological distress, as defined by the six-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale was also assessed.

Results: Among 13,361 survey participants (median age 67; 60.0% female), 9567 (71.6%) self-reported financial worry, including worries regarding costs of paying for children's college education (62.7%), maintaining one's standard of living (59.7%), and medical costs due to illness or accident (58.3%). Female sex, younger age, and Asian American race were associated with increased odds of financial worry (P < 0.05 for all). Of 13,218 participants with complete responses to K6 questions, 701 (5.3%) met the threshold for severe psychological distress. Participants endorsing financial worry were more likely to have psychological distress (6.6 vs. 1.2%, AOR 2.89, 95% CI 2.03-4.13, P< 0.001) with each additional worry conferring 23.9% increased likelihood of psychological distress.

Conclusions: A majority of cancer survivors reported financial worry, which was associated with greater odds of reporting psychological distress. Policies and guidelines are needed to identify and mitigate financial worries and psychologic distress among patients with cancer, with the goal of improving psychological well-being and overall cancer survivorship care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06084-1DOI Listing
September 2021

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Mass General Brigham Fellowship Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

JCO Oncol Pract 2021 09 2;17(9):541-545. Epub 2021 Feb 2.

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

The coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 pandemic has affected graduate medical education training programs, including hematology-oncology fellowship programs, both across the United States and abroad. Within the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Mass General Brigham hematology-oncology fellowship program, fellowship leadership had to quickly reorganize the program's clinical, educational, and research structure to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread to our patients and staff, allow fellows to assist in the care of patients with COVID-19, maintain formal didactics despite physical distancing, and ensure the mental and physical well-being of fellows. Following the first wave of patients with COVID-19, we anonymously surveyed the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Mass General Brigham first-year fellows to explore their perceptions regarding what the program did well and what could have been improved in the COVID-19 response. In this article, we present the feedback from our fellows and the lessons we learned as a program from this feedback. To our knowledge, this represents the first effort in the hematology-oncology literature to directly assess a hematology-oncology program's overall response to COVID-19 through direct feedback from fellows.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/OP.20.00894DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8457796PMC
September 2021

Caregiver-Oncologist Prognostic Concordance, Caregiver Mastery, and Caregiver Psychological Health and Quality of Life.

Oncologist 2021 04 13;26(4):310-317. Epub 2021 Feb 13.

James P Wilmot Cancer Institute, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA.

Background: Caregivers of adults with cancer often report a different understanding of the patient's prognosis than the oncologist. We examine the associations of caregiver-oncologist prognostic concordance with caregiver depressive symptoms, distress, and quality of life (QoL). We also explore whether these relationships differed by caregiver environment mastery, an individual's sense of control, and effectiveness in managing life situations.

Materials And Methods: We used data from a national geriatric assessment cluster-randomized trial (URCC 13070) that recruited patients aged 70 years and older with incurable cancer considering any line of cancer treatment at community oncology practices, their caregivers, and their oncologists. At enrollment, caregivers and oncologists estimated the patient's prognosis (0-6 months, 7-12 months, 1-2 years, 2-5 years, and >5 years; identical responses were concordant). Caregivers completed the Ryff's environmental mastery at enrollment. At 4-6 weeks, caregivers completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (depressive symptoms), distress thermometer, and 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey (quality of life [QoL]). We used generalized estimating equations in models adjusted for covariates. We then assessed the moderation effect of caregiver mastery.

Results: Of 411 caregiver-oncologist dyads (mean age = 66.5 years), 369 provided responses and 28% were concordant. Prognostic concordance was associated with greater caregiver depressive symptoms (β = 0.30; p = .04) but not distress or QoL. A significant moderation effect for caregiver depressive symptoms was found between concordance and mastery (p = .01). Specifically, among caregivers with low mastery (below median), concordance was associated with greater depressive symptoms (β = 0.68; p = .003).

Conclusions: Caregiver-oncologist prognostic concordance was associated with caregiver depressive symptoms. We found a novel moderating effect of caregiver mastery on the relationship between concordance and caregiver depressive symptoms.

Implications For Practice: Caregiver-oncologist prognostic concordance is associated with greater caregiver depressive symptoms, particularly in those with low caregiver mastery. When discussing prognosis with caregivers, physicians should be aware that prognostic understanding may affect caregiver psychological health and should assess their depressive symptoms. In addition, while promoting accurate prognostic understanding, physicians should also identify strengths and build resilience among caregivers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13699DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8018313PMC
April 2021

Associations of Skeletal Muscle With Symptom Burden and Clinical Outcomes in Hospitalized Patients With Advanced Cancer.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2021 Jan 29;19(3):319-327. Epub 2021 Jan 29.

1Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, and.

Background: Low muscle mass (quantity) is common in patients with advanced cancer, but little is known about muscle radiodensity (quality). We sought to describe the associations of muscle mass and radiodensity with symptom burden, healthcare use, and survival in hospitalized patients with advanced cancer.

Methods: We prospectively enrolled hospitalized patients with advanced cancer from September 2014 through May 2016. Upon admission, patients reported their physical (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS]) and psychological (Patient Health Questionnaire-4 [PHQ-4]) symptoms. We used CT scans performed per routine care within 45 days before enrollment to evaluate muscle mass and radiodensity. We used regression models to examine associations of muscle mass and radiodensity with patients' symptom burden, healthcare use (hospital length of stay and readmissions), and survival.

Results: Of 1,121 patients enrolled, 677 had evaluable muscle data on CT (mean age, 62.86 ± 12.95 years; 51.1% female). Older age and female sex were associated with lower muscle mass (age: B, -0.16; P<.001; female: B, -6.89; P<.001) and radiodensity (age: B, -0.33; P<.001; female: B, -1.66; P=.014), and higher BMI was associated with higher muscle mass (B, 0.58; P<.001) and lower radiodensity (B, -0.61; P<.001). Higher muscle mass was significantly associated with improved survival (hazard ratio, 0.97; P<.001). Notably, higher muscle radiodensity was significantly associated with lower ESAS-Physical (B, -0.17; P=.016), ESAS-Total (B, -0.29; P=.002), PHQ-4-Depression (B, -0.03; P=.006), and PHQ-4-Anxiety (B, -0.03; P=.008) symptoms, as well as decreased hospital length of stay (B, -0.07; P=.005), risk of readmission or death in 90 days (odds ratio, 0.97; P<.001), and improved survival (hazard ratio, 0.97; P<.001).

Conclusions: Although muscle mass (quantity) only correlated with survival, we found that muscle radiodensity (quality) was associated with patients' symptoms, healthcare use, and survival. These findings underscore the added importance of assessing muscle quality when seeking to address adverse muscle changes in oncology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2020.7618DOI Listing
January 2021

Patient and Caregiver Considerations and Priorities When Selecting Hospitals for Complex Cancer Care.

Ann Surg Oncol 2021 Aug 7;28(8):4183-4192. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.

Background: Healthcare policies have focused on centralizing care to high-volume centers in an effort to optimize patient outcomes; however, little is known about patients' and caregivers' considerations and selection process when selecting hospitals for care. We aim to explore how patients and caregivers select hospitals for complex cancer care and to develop a taxonomy for their selection considerations.

Methods: This was a qualitative study in which data were gathered from in-depth interviews conducted from March to November 2019 among patients with hepatopancreatobiliary cancers who were scheduled to undergo a pancreatectomy (n = 20) at a metropolitan, urban regional, or suburban medical center and their caregivers (n = 10).

Results: The interviews revealed six broad domains that characterized hospital selection considerations: hospital factors, team characteristics, travel distance to hospital, referral or recommendation, continuity of care, and insurance considerations. The identified domains were similar between participants seen at the metropolitan center and urban/suburban medical centers, with the following exceptions: participants receiving care specifically at the metropolitan center noted operative volume and access to specific services such as clinical trials in their hospital selection; participants receiving care at urban/suburban centers noted health insurance considerations and having access to existing medical records in their hospital selection.

Conclusions: This study delineates the many considerations of patients and caregivers when selecting hospitals for complex cancer care. These identified domains should be incorporated into the development and implementation of centralization policies to help increase patient access to high-quality cancer care that is consistent with their priorities and needs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1245/s10434-020-09506-2DOI Listing
August 2021

Associations of baseline patient-reported outcomes with treatment outcomes in advanced gastrointestinal cancer.

Cancer 2021 02 10;127(4):619-627. Epub 2020 Nov 10.

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) assessing quality of life (QOL) and symptom burden correlate with clinical outcomes in patients with cancer. However, to the authors' knowledge, data regarding associations between PROs and treatment response are lacking.

Methods: The authors prospectively approached consecutive patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer who were initiating a new treatment. Prior to treatment, patients reported their QOL (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General [FACT-G], 4 subscales: Functional, Physical, Emotional, Social; higher scores indicate better QOL) and symptom burden (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS], Patient Health Questionnaire-4 [PHQ-4]; higher scores represent greater symptoms). Regression models were used to examine associations of baseline PROs with treatment response (clinical benefit or progressive disease [PD] at time of first scan), healthcare utilization, and survival.

Results: From May 2019 to April 2020, a total of 112 patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer were enrolled. For treatment response, 64.3% had CB and 35.7% had PD. Higher baseline ESAS-Physical (odds ratio, 1.04; P = .027) and lower FACT-G Functional (odds ratio, 0.92; P = .038) scores were associated with PD. Higher ESAS-Physical (hazard ratio [HR], 1.03; P = .044) and lower FACT-G Total (HR, 0.96; P = .005), FACT-G Physical (HR, 0.89; P < .001), and FACT-G Functional (HR, 0.87; P < .001) scores were associated with a greater hospitalization risk. Lower FACT-G Total (HR, 0.96; P = .009) and FACT-G Emotional (HR, 0.86; P = .012) scores as well as higher ESAS-Total (HR, 1.03; P = .014) and ESAS-Physical (HR, 1.04; P = .032) scores were associated with worse survival.

Conclusions: Baseline PROs are associated with treatment response in patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer, namely physical symptoms and functional QOL, in addition to health care use and survival. The findings of the current study support the association between PROs and important clinical outcomes, including the novel finding of treatment response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33315DOI Listing
February 2021

Prognostic Awareness in Caregivers of Patients with Incurable Cancer.

J Palliat Med 2021 04 30;24(4):561-569. Epub 2020 Sep 30.

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Little is known about how patients with incurable cancer and caregivers differ in their prognostic awareness, and the relationship between caregiver prognostic awareness and their psychological distress. To investigate prognostic awareness in caregivers of patients with incurable cancer and prognostic discordance in patient-caregiver dyads and its association with psychological distress. This is a cross-sectional study. In total, subjects were 390 caregivers of adults with incurable lung, gastrointestinal, and brain cancers at a cancer center in the northeastern United States. The Prognosis and Treatment Perceptions Questionnaire was used to assess prognostic awareness and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale to assess psychological distress. In total, 39.7% ( = 147/370) and 17.3% ( = 64/370) caregivers reported clinically significant anxiety and depression symptoms. And 53.7% of caregivers reported the patients' cancer as "curable" and 44.1% reported the cancer was "not terminal." Caregivers' report of curability was not associated with their anxiety (odds ratio [OR] = 0.99,  = 0.93) or depression (OR = 1.05,  = 0.32) symptoms. Among 42.5% (124/292) and 26.0% (76/292) of dyads ( = 292), both patients and their caregivers agreed in their perception of the cancer as curable and incurable, respectively. In 19.9% of dyads ( = 58), patients reported their cancer as curable, while their caregivers reported it as incurable. In 11.6% of dyads ( = 34), patients reported the cancer as incurable while caregivers reported it as curable. More than half of caregivers have misperceptions about the patients' likelihood of cure, and one-third of patient-caregiver dyads have discordant perceptions. Supportive care interventions may facilitate conversations and enhance prognostic understanding in patients with incurable cancer and their caregivers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2020.0236DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8182654PMC
April 2021

Health care-related time costs in patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Cancer Med 2020 11 21;9(22):8423-8431. Epub 2020 Sep 21.

Division of Hematology & Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Birmingham, AL, USA.

Background: Burdens related to time spent receiving cancer care may be substantial for patients with incurable, life-limiting cancers such as metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Estimates of time spent on health care are needed to inform treatment-related decision-making.

Methods: Estimates of time spent receiving cancer-related health care in the initial 3 months of treatment for patients with MBC were calculated using the following data sources: (a) direct observations from a time-in-motion quality improvement evaluation (process mapping); (b) cross-sectional patient surveys; and (c) administrative claims. Average ambulatory, inpatient, and total health care time were calculated for specific treatments which differed by antineoplastic type and administration method, including fulvestrant (injection, hormonal), letrozole (oral, hormonal), capecitabine (oral, chemotherapy), and paclitaxel (infusion, chemotherapy).

Results: Average total time spent on health care ranged from 7% to 10% of all days included within the initial 3 months of treatment, depending on treatment. The greatest time contributions were time spent traveling for care and on inpatient services. Time with providers contributed modestly to total care time. Patients receiving infusion/injection treatments, compared with those receiving oral therapy, spent more time in ambulatory care. Health care time was higher for patients receiving chemotherapeutic agents compared to those receiving hormonal agents.

Conclusion: Time spent traveling and receiving inpatient care represented a substantial burden to patients with MBC, with variation in time by treatment type and administration method.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.3461DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7666754PMC
November 2020

Ramucirumab in the second-line for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and elevated alpha-fetoprotein: patient-reported outcomes across two randomised clinical trials.

ESMO Open 2020 08;5(4)

Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Kindai University, Osaka, Japan.

Background: Symptoms of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represent a substantial burden for the patient and are important endpoints to assess when evaluating treatment. Patient-reported outcomes were evaluated in subjects with advanced HCC and baseline alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) ≥400 ng/mL treated with second-line ramucirumab.

Patients And Methods: Patients with AFP≥400 ng/mL enrolled in the REACH or REACH-2 phase 3 studies were used in this analysis. Eligible patients had advanced HCC, Child-Pugh A, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0/1 and prior sorafenib. Patients received ramucirumab 8 mg/kg or placebo once every 2 weeks. Disease-related symptoms and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) were assessed with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy Hepatobiliary Symptom Index (FHSI)-8 and EuroQoL-5-Dimensions (EQ-5D) instruments, respectively. Time to deterioration (TTD) (≥3-point decrease in FHSI-8 total score;≥0.06-point decrease in EQ-5D score, from randomisation to first date of deterioration) was determined using Kaplan-Meier estimation and the Cox proportional hazards model. Both separate and pooled analyses for REACH AFP≥400 ng/mL and REACH-2 patients were conducted.

Results: In the pooled population with AFP ≥400 ng/mL (n=542; ramucirumab, n=316; placebo, n=226), median TTD in FHSI-8 total score was prolonged with ramucirumab relative to placebo (3.3 vs 1.9 months; HR 0.725; (95% CI 0.559 to 0.941); p=0.0152), including significant differences in back pain (0.668; (0.497 to 0.899); p=0.0044), weight loss (0.699; (0.505 to 0.969); p=0.0231) and pain (0.769; (0.588 to 1.005); p=0.0248) symptoms. TTD in EQ-5D score was not significantly different between ramucirumab and placebo groups (median 2.9 vs 1.9 months). Results in the individual trials were consistent with these findings.

Conclusions: Ramucirumab in second-line treatment of advanced HCC demonstrates consistent benefit in the delay of deterioration in disease-related symptoms with no worsening of HRQoL. Taken with previously demonstrated ramucirumab-driven survival benefits in this setting, these data may inform patient-clinician discussions about the benefit-risk profile of this therapy.

Trial Registration Number: NCT01140347; NCT02435433, NCT02435433.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/esmoopen-2020-000797DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7437873PMC
August 2020

Treatment Decision Making and Financial Toxicity in Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer.

Clin Breast Cancer 2021 02 6;21(1):37-46. Epub 2020 Jul 6.

University of Alabama School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL; Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

Introduction: Oncologists have increasingly been proponents of shared decision making (SDM) to enhance patient outcomes and reduce unnecessary health care spending. However, its effect on patient out-of-pocket costs is unknown. This study investigated the relationship between patient preferences for SDM and financial toxicity (FT) in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC).

Patients And Methods: This cross-sectional study utilized surveys of women aged ≥ 18 with MBC who received care at two academic hospitals in Alabama from 2017 to 2019. Patients self-reported their SDM preference (Control Preferences Scale) and FT (Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity [COST] tool; 11-item scale, with lower scores indicating worse FT). Effect sizes were calculated using the proportion of variance explained (R) or Cramer's V. Differences in FT by SDM preference were estimated using mixed models clustered by site and treating medical oncologist.

Results: In 95 women with MBC, 44% preferred SDM, 29% preferred provider-driven decision making, and 27% preferred patient-driven decision making. Patients preferring SDM were more often college educated (53% vs. 39%; V = 0.12) with an income greater than $40,000/y (55% vs. 43%; V = 0.18). Overall median COST was 22 (interquartile range, 16-29). After adjusting for patient demographic and clinical characteristics, patients preferring patient-driven decision making trended toward worse FT (COST 17: 95% confidence interval, 12-22) compared to those preferring SDM (COST 19: 95% confidence interval, 15-23) and those preferring provider-driven decision making (COST 22: 95% confidence interval, 17-27).

Conclusion: Patients preferring more patient-driven decision making reported worse FT, although differences did not reach statistical significance. Further research is needed to understand this relationship.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clbc.2020.07.002DOI Listing
February 2021

Randomized trial of a hospice video educational tool for patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers.

Cancer 2020 08 8;126(15):3569-3578. Epub 2020 Jun 8.

Department of Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: Patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers have substantial misperceptions regarding hospice, which contributes to its underuse.

Methods: The authors conducted a single-site randomized trial of a video educational tool versus a verbal description of hospice in 150 hospitalized patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers. Patients without a caregiver were eligible. Intervention participants (75 patients and 18 caregivers) viewed a 6-minute video depicting hospice. Control participants (75 patients and 26 caregivers) received a verbal description identical to the video narrative. The primary outcome was patient preference for hospice. Secondary outcomes included patient and/or caregiver knowledge and perceptions of hospice, and hospice use.

Results: Between February 2017 and January 2019, approximately 55.7% of eligible patients (150 of 269 eligible patients) and 44 caregivers were enrolled. After the intervention, there was no difference noted with regard to patients' preferences for hospice (86.7% vs 82.7%; P = .651). Patients in the video group reported greater knowledge regarding hospice (9.0 vs 8.4; P = .049) and were less likely to endorse that hospice is only about death (6.7% vs 21.6%; P = .010). Among deceased patients, those assigned to the intervention were more likely to have used hospice (85.2% vs 63.6%; P = .01) and to have had a longer hospice length of stay (median, 12 days vs 3 days; P < .001). After the intervention, caregivers assigned to view the video were more likely to prefer hospice for their loved ones (94.4% vs 65.4%; P = .031), reported greater knowledge concerning hospice (9.7% vs 8.0%; P = .001), and were less likely to endorse that hospice is only about death (0.0% vs 23.1%; P = .066).

Conclusions: A hospice video did not significantly impact patients' preferences for hospice care. Patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers who were assigned to view the video were more informed regarding hospice and reported more favorable perceptions of hospice. Patients were more likely to use hospice and to have a longer hospice length of stay.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.32967DOI Listing
August 2020

What the HEC? Clinician Adherence to Evidence-Based Antiemetic Prophylaxis for Highly Emetogenic Chemotherapy.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2020 06;18(6):676-681

8University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.

Background: Clinician adherence to antiemetic guidelines for preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) caused by highly emetogenic chemotherapy (HEC) remains poorly characterized. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate individual clinician adherence to HEC antiemetic guidelines.

Patients And Methods: A retrospective analysis of patients receiving HEC was conducted using the IBM Watson Explorys Electronic Health Record Database (2012-2018). HEC antiemetic guideline adherence was defined as prescription of triple prophylaxis (neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist [NK1 RA], serotonin type-3 receptor antagonist, dexamethasone) at initiation of cisplatin or anthracycline + cyclophosphamide (AC). Clinicians who prescribed ≥5 HEC courses were included and individual guideline adherence was assessed, noting the number of prescribing clinicians with >90% adherence.

Results: A total of 217 clinicians were identified who prescribed 2,543 cisplatin and 1,490 AC courses. Patients (N=4,033) were primarily women (63.3%) and chemotherapy-naïve (92%) with a mean age of 58.6 years. Breast (36%) and thoracic (19%) cancers were the most common tumor types. Guideline adherence rates of >90% were achieved by 35% and 58% of clinicians using cisplatin or AC, respectively. Omission of an NK1 RA was the most common practice of nonadherence. Variation in prophylaxis guideline adherence was considerable for cisplatin (mean, 71%; SD, 29%; coefficient of variation [CV], 0.40) and AC (mean, 84%; SD, 26%; CV, 0.31).

Conclusions: Findings showed substantial gaps in clinician adherence to HEC CINV guidelines, including a high variability across clinicians. Clinicians should review their individual clinical practices and ensure adherence to evidence-based CINV guidelines to optimize patient care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2019.7526DOI Listing
June 2020

Functional Impairment, Symptom Burden, and Clinical Outcomes Among Hospitalized Patients With Advanced Cancer.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2020 06;18(6):747-754

1Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: National guidelines recommend regular measurement of functional status among patients with cancer, particularly those who are elderly or high-risk, but little is known about how functional status relates to clinical outcomes among hospitalized patients with advanced cancer. The goal of this study was to investigate how functional impairment is associated with symptom burden and healthcare utilization and clinical outcomes.

Patients And Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of patients with advanced cancer with unplanned hospitalizations at Massachusetts General Hospital from September 2014 through March 2016. Upon admission, nurses assessed patients' activities of daily living (ADLs; mobility, feeding, bathing, dressing, and grooming). Patients with any ADL impairment on admission were classified as having functional impairment. We used the revised Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-r) and Patient Health Questionnaire-4 to assess physical and psychological symptoms, respectively. Multivariable regression models were used to assess the relationships between functional impairment, hospital length of stay, and survival.

Results: Among 971 patients, 390 (40.2%) had functional impairment. Those with functional impairment were older (mean age, 67.18 vs 60.81 years; P<.001) and had a higher physical symptom burden (mean ESAS physical score, 35.29 vs 30.85; P<.001) compared with those with no functional impairment. They were also more likely to report moderate-to-severe pain (74.9% vs 63.1%; P<.001) and symptoms of depression (38.3% vs 23.6%; P<.001) and anxiety (35.9% vs 22.4%; P<.001). Functional impairment was associated with longer hospital length of stay (β = 1.29; P<.001) and worse survival (hazard ratio, 1.73; P<.001).

Conclusions: Hospitalized patients with advanced cancer who had functional impairment experienced a significantly higher symptom burden and worse clinical outcomes compared with those without functional impairment. These findings provide evidence supporting the routine assessment of functional status on hospital admission and using this to inform discharge planning, discussions about prognosis, and the development of interventions addressing patients' symptoms and physical function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2019.7385DOI Listing
June 2020

Importance of quality-of-life priorities and preferences surrounding treatment decision making in patients with cancer and oncology clinicians.

Cancer 2020 08 19;126(15):3534-3541. Epub 2020 May 19.

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

Background: Shared decision-making (SDM) occurs when a patient partners with their oncologist to integrate personal preferences and values into treatment decisions. A key component of SDM is the elicitation of patient preferences and values, yet little is known about how and when these are elicited, communicated, prioritized, and documented within clinical encounters.

Methods: This cross-sectional study evaluated nationwide data collected by CancerCare to better understand current patterns of SDM between patients and their oncology clinicians. Patient surveys included questions about the importance of quality-of-life preferences and discussions regarding quality-of-life priorities with their clinicians. Clinician surveys included questions about the discussion of quality-of-life priorities and preferences with patients, the effect of quality-of-life priorities on treatment recommendations, and quality-of-life priority documentation in practice.

Results: Patient survey completers (n = 320; 33% response rate) were predominantly women (95%), had a diagnosis of breast cancer (59%), or were receiving active cancer treatment (59%). Clinician survey completers (n = 112; 5% response rate) predominately identified as hematologists or oncologists (66%). Although 67% of clinicians reported knowing their patients' personal quality-of-life priorities and preferences before finalizing treatment plans, only 37% of patients reported that these discussions occurred before treatment initiation. Most patients (95%) considered out-of-pocket expenses important during treatment planning, yet only 59% reported discussing out-of-pocket expenses with their clinician before finalizing treatment plans. A majority of clinicians (52%) considered clinic questionnaires as feasible to document quality-of-life priorities and preferences.

Conclusions: Patients and clinicians reported that preferences related to quality-of-life should be considered in treatment decision making, yet barriers to SDM, preference elicitation, and documentation remain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.32961DOI Listing
August 2020

Pilot Randomized Trial of a Transdisciplinary Geriatric and Palliative Care Intervention for Older Adults With Cancer.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2020 05;18(5):591-598

1Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, and.

Background: Oncologists often struggle with managing the unique care needs of older adults with cancer. This study sought to determine the feasibility of delivering a transdisciplinary intervention targeting the geriatric-specific (physical function and comorbidity) and palliative care (symptoms and prognostic understanding) needs of older adults with advanced cancer.

Methods: Patients aged ≥65 years with incurable gastrointestinal or lung cancer were randomly assigned to a transdisciplinary intervention or usual care. Those in the intervention arm received 2 visits with a geriatrician, who addressed patients' palliative care needs and conducted a geriatric assessment. We predefined the intervention as feasible if >70% of eligible patients enrolled in the study and >75% of eligible patients completed study visits and surveys. At baseline and week 12, we assessed patients' quality of life (QoL), symptoms, and communication confidence. We calculated mean change scores in outcomes and estimated intervention effect sizes (ES; Cohen's d) for changes from baseline to week 12, with 0.2 indicating a small effect, 0.5 a medium effect, and 0.8 a large effect.

Results: From February 2017 through June 2018, we randomized 62 patients (55.9% enrollment rate [most common reason for refusal was feeling too ill]; median age, 72.3 years; cancer types: 56.5% gastrointestinal, 43.5% lung). Among intervention patients, 82.1% attended the first visit and 79.6% attended both. Overall, 89.7% completed all study surveys. Compared with usual care, intervention patients had less QoL decrement (-0.77 vs -3.84; ES = 0.21), reduced number of moderate/severe symptoms (-0.69 vs +1.04; ES = 0.58), and improved communication confidence (+1.06 vs -0.80; ES = 0.38).

Conclusions: In this pilot trial, enrollment exceeded 55%, and >75% of enrollees completed all study visits and surveys. The transdisciplinary intervention targeting older patients' unique care needs showed encouraging ES estimates for enhancing patients' QoL, symptom burden, and communication confidence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2019.7386DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851750PMC
May 2020

Symptom burden in patients with cancer who are experiencing unplanned hospitalization.

Cancer 2020 06 13;126(12):2924-2933. Epub 2020 Mar 13.

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: Inpatient supportive care programs often target patients with advanced solid tumors. To the authors' knowledge, few studies to date have characterized symptom burden in hospitalized patients with potentially curable cancers. The objective of the current study was to compare symptom burden, palliative care consultation, and readmission rates in hospitalized patients by cancer type and treatment intent.

Methods: The authors conducted a single-center study of hospitalized patients with cancer between 2014 and 2017. They assessed physical symptoms using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System and psychological distress using the Patient Health Questionnaire-4 and the Primary Care PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) Screen. Multivariate linear regression models were used to assess symptom burden, logistic regression was used to assess palliative care use, and competing risk regression was used to compare 90-day readmission risk.

Results: A total of 1549 patients were enrolled and surveyed. The majority of patients reported moderate to severe fatigue, poor well-being, and drowsiness with no significant differences noted by cancer type and treatment intent. Compared with other groups, patients with incurable solid cancer reported higher physical symptoms (beta coefficient [B], 4.73; P < .01) and symptoms of depression (B, 0.44; P < .01) and anxiety (B, 0.39; P < .01), but no difference in posttraumatic stress disorder. Among patients in the top quartile symptom burden according to the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System, the palliative care service was consulted in 14.7%, 7.9%, 25.0%, and 49.6%, respectively, of patients with potentially curable hematologic, potentially curable solid, incurable hematologic, and incurable solid cancers (P < .001). Compared with patients with potentially curable solid cancer, patients in each group experienced a higher risk of readmission within 90 days.

Conclusions: Hospitalized patients with cancer experience substantial physical and psychological symptoms. Palliative care rarely is consulted for highly symptomatic patients with potentially curable cancers. Supportive care interventions should target the needs of symptomatic patients regardless of treatment intent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.32833DOI Listing
June 2020

Performance status and end-of-life care among adults with non-small cell lung cancer receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Cancer 2020 05 6;126(10):2288-2295. Epub 2020 Mar 6.

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: Adults with impaired performance status (PS) often receive immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) despite limited efficacy data and unknown effects on end-of-life care.

Methods: This was a retrospective, single-site study of 237 patients with advanced NSCLC who initiated ICI treatment from 2015 to 2017. Cox regression was used to compare the overall survival (OS) of patients who had impaired PS (≥2) at the start of ICI treatment with those who had PS 0 or 1 using Cox regression. Logistic regression was conducted to analyze the association between ICI use in the last 30 days of life and the use of end-of-life health care.

Results: The patient mean age at ICI initiation was 67 years (range, 37-91 years), and 35.4% of patients had PS ≥2. Most patients (80.8%) received ICI as second-line or later therapy. The median OS was 4.5 months in patients with PS ≥2 and 14.3 months in those with PS 0 or 1 (hazard ratio, 2.5; P < .0001). Among the patients who died (n = 184), 28.8% who had PS ≥2 received ICIs in their last 30 days of life compared with 10.8% of those who had PS 0 or 1 (P = .002). Receipt of ICI in the last 30 days of life was associated with decreased hospice referral (odds ratio, 0.29; P = .008) and increased in-hospital deaths (odds ratio, 6.8; P = .001), independent of PS.

Conclusions: Adults with advanced NSCLC and impaired PS experience significantly shorter survival after ICI treatment and receive ICIs near death more often than those with better PS. Receipt of an ICI near death was associated with lower hospice use and an increased risk of death in the hospital. These results underscore the need for high-quality communication about potential tradeoffs of ICIs, particularly among adults receiving ICIs as second-line or later therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.32782DOI Listing
May 2020

Screening Tool Identifies Older Adults With Cancer at Risk for Poor Outcomes.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2020 03;18(3):305-313

Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: Oncologists often struggle with managing the complex issues unique to older adults with cancer, and research is needed to identify patients at risk for poor outcomes.

Methods: This study enrolled patients aged ≥70 years within 8 weeks of a diagnosis of incurable gastrointestinal cancer. Patient-reported surveys were used to assess vulnerability (Vulnerable Elders Survey [scores ≥3 indicate a positive screen for vulnerability]), quality of life (QoL; EORTC Quality of Life of Cancer Patients questionnaire [higher scores indicate better QoL]), and symptoms (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS; higher scores indicate greater symptom burden] and Geriatric Depression Scale [higher scores indicate greater depression symptoms]). Unplanned hospital visits within 90 days of enrollment and overall survival were evaluated. We used regression models to examine associations among vulnerability, QoL, symptom burden, hospitalizations, and overall survival.

Results: Of 132 patients approached, 102 (77.3%) were enrolled (mean [M] ± SD age, 77.25 ± 5.75 years). Nearly half (45.1%) screened positive for vulnerability, and these patients were older (M, 79.45 vs 75.44 years; P=.001) and had more comorbid conditions (M, 2.13 vs 1.34; P=.017) compared with nonvulnerable patients. Vulnerable patients reported worse QoL across all domains (global QoL: M, 53.26 vs 66.82; P=.041; physical QoL: M, 58.95 vs 88.24; P<.001; role QoL: M, 53.99 vs 82.12; P=.001; emotional QoL: M, 73.19 vs 85.76; P=.007; cognitive QoL: M, 79.35 vs 92.73; P=.011; social QoL: M, 59.42 vs 82.42; P<.001), higher symptom burden (ESAS total: M, 31.05 vs 15.00; P<.001), and worse depression score (M, 4.74 vs 2.25; P<.001). Vulnerable patients had a higher risk of unplanned hospitalizations (hazard ratio, 2.38; 95% CI, 1.08-5.27; P=.032) and worse overall survival (hazard ratio, 2.26; 95% CI, 1.14-4.48; P=.020).

Conclusions: Older adults with cancer who screen positive as vulnerable experience a higher symptom burden, greater healthcare use, and worse survival. Screening tools to identify vulnerable patients should be integrated into practice to guide clinical care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2019.7355DOI Listing
March 2020
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