Publications by authors named "Sriram Yennurajalingam"

111 Publications

Do Patients Benefit from a Trial of Corticosteroids at the End of Life?

Curr Treat Options Oncol 2022 Jun 1;23(6):796-805. Epub 2022 Apr 1.

Department of Palliative Care Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd. #1414, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Opinion Statement: Patients with advanced cancer in the last 6 months of their lives have a higher frequency of distressing and debilitating physical and psychosocial symptoms such as cancer pain, cancer-related fatigue (CRF), anorexia, shortness of breath, poor sleep, anxiety, and depression. Often these symptoms significantly impact the patients' quality of life, and therefore require prompt assessment and effective treatment. There are specific treatments for certain distressing cancer-related symptoms (e.g., opioids for pain), but for the other symptoms such as CRF, anorexia-cachexia, and shortness of breath, there are limited or no evidence-based treatments. Also, in the management of cancer pain in this population, many patients are refractory to opioids. Hence, corticosteroids are one of the most common adjuvant medications prescribed for the management of this distressing symptom. However, there is limited evidence in regard to the effectiveness of corticosteroids in the improvement of the symptoms, side-effect profile, most optimal duration of use, dose, type of steroid, and most recently, the use with immunotherapy in advanced cancer patients at the end of life. These factors significantly limit the use of this important medication in terminally ill cancer patients. Further research is therefore critical to provide the optimal prescription of corticosteroids in this highly distressed population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11864-022-00977-xDOI Listing
June 2022

Frequency and Prediction of Burnout Among Physicians Who Completed Palliative Care Fellowship Training - A 10 Year Survey.

J Pain Symptom Manage 2022 Jul 18;64(1):e15-e21. Epub 2022 Feb 18.

Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

Context: Palliative Care (PC) physicians are vulnerable to burnout given the nature of practice. Reports suggest that burnout frequency is variable across different countries.

Objective: The main objective of our study was to determine knowledge, attitudes and frequency of burnout among Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) Fellowship graduates trained at a comprehensive cancer center.

Methods: We conducted a survey to determine the knowledge, attitudes, and frequency of burnout in former fellows, consisting of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and 41 custom questions. Palliative care fellows who trained at a Comprehensive Cancer Center from 2008 to 2018 were included in the survey.

Results: Eighty-four percent of the 52 eligible physicians completed surveys. Median age was 38 years, with 68% females. Seventy-seven percent practiced PC more than 50% of time. Median practice duration was four years, and 84% were board certified. Most common disease types treated were cancer (89%), cardiac (43%) and pulmonary (43%). Burnout rate was high at 52% (n=20). The median scores for emotional exhaustion were 25.5, depersonalization 9, and personal accomplishment 48. Female gender (P=0.07) and having administration as a component in the job description (P=0.044) were associated with risk of burnout. Clinical care setting, work hours/week, frequency of weekend calls, and size of team were not significantly associated with burnout.

Conclusion: Burnout among former fellows trained in HPM between 2008 and 2018 is high. More research is needed to develop strategies to better prevent and manage burnout among HPM fellowship trained PC physicians.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2022.02.009DOI Listing
July 2022

Combination Therapy of Physical Activity and Dexamethasone for Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Phase II Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2021 12 29:1-9. Epub 2021 Dec 29.

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine.

Background: Despite the high frequency of cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and its debilitating effects on the quality of life of patients with advanced cancer, there are limited treatment options available. Treatments including physical activity (PA) or dexamethasone (Dex) improve CRF; however, they have lower adherence rates (PA) or long-term adverse effects (Dex). The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of and preliminary results for the combination of PA and Dex in improving CRF.

Methods: In this phase II randomized controlled trial, patients with advanced cancer and CRF scores of ≥4/10 on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale were eligible. Patients were randomized to standardized PA for 4 weeks with either 4 mg of Dex (LoDex arm) or 8 mg of Dex (HiDex arm) twice a day for 7 days. Feasibility and change in the Functional Assessment of Cancer Illness Therapy-Fatigue subscale (FACIT-F) from baseline to day 8 and day 29 (primary outcome) were assessed. Secondary outcomes included changes in fatigue dimensions (FACIT-General, Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System [PROMIS]-Fatigue).

Results: A total of 60 of 67 (90%) patients were evaluable. All patients were adherent to study medication. We found that 84% and 65% of patients in the LoDex arm and 96% and 68% of patients in the HiDex arm were adherent to aerobic and resistance exercise, respectively. The FACIT-F effect size in the LoDex arm was 0.90 (P<.001) and 0.92 (P<.001) and the effect size in the HiDex arm was 0.86 and 1.03 (P<.001 for both) at days 8 and 29, respectively. We found significant improvements in the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Physical (P≤.013) and the PROMIS-Fatigue (P≤.003) at days 8 and 29 in both arms. Mixed-model analysis showed a significant improvement in the FACIT-F scores at day 8 (P<.001), day 15 (P<.001), and day 29 (P=.002). Changes in the FACIT-F scores were not significantly different between patients in the 2 arms (P=.86).

Conclusions: Our study found that the combination therapy of PA with Dex was feasible and resulted in the improvement of CRF. The improvement was seen for up to 3 weeks after the discontinuation of Dex. Further larger studies are justified. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02491632.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2021.7066DOI Listing
December 2021

Sleep disturbance in cancer patients referred to an ambulatory integrative oncology consultation.

Support Care Cancer 2022 Mar 11;30(3):2417-2425. Epub 2021 Nov 11.

Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer, Unit 1414, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Background: Sleep disturbance (SD) is highly prevalent in oncology and negatively affects quality of life and mortality. Evidence supports the use of integrative oncology (IO) practices to treat SD, but there is limited published data on the characteristics of SD and factors associated with SD in IO. We determined the prevalence, severity, and factors associated with SD among cancer patients seen in an ambulatory IO consultation.

Methods: Patients with cancer referred for initial outpatient IO consultation in 2017 were eligible. Patient demographics, clinical characteristics, and patient-reported outcomes (Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCaW), PROMIS-10) were retrospectively reviewed.

Results: One thousand five hundred twenty patients were included in the analysis. The majority (70%) were women with breast cancer (42%). Nine hundred seventy-one (64%) patients reported significant SD with ESAS Sleep ≥ 4, yet only 11% expressed poor sleep as their primary or secondary concern for the IO consultation. The median SD (IQR) was 5 (3,7). ESAS scores for fatigue (adjusted OR 1.16; CI 1.07-1.26, p < 0.001), pain (adjusted OR 1.07; CI 1.00-1.15, p < 0.05), hot flashes (adjusted OR 1.14; CI 1.07-1.22, p < 0.001), well-being (adjusted OR 1.33; CI 1.22-1.46, p < 0.001), and psychological distress score (anxiety and depression) (adjusted OR 1.16; CI 1.01-1.11, p < 0.01) were independently associated with SD in multivariate analysis. Acupuncture was the most frequent intervention prescribed, 175 (35%). Other modalities included oncology massage (15%), health psychology (5%), and meditation (1%).

Conclusions: Although 64% of patients seeking IO consultation reported clinically significant SD, only 11% were seeking integrative approaches for managing SD. ESAS fatigue, hot flashes, well-being, and psychological symptoms were significantly associated with SD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06668-xDOI Listing
March 2022

Impact of "race" as a social variable for screening for the risk of non-medical opioid use using nomogram.

Palliat Support Care 2021 10;19(5):638-639

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1478951521001358DOI Listing
October 2021

Frequency and characteristics of advanced cancer patients with COVID + ve status among inpatient supportive care consults during the pandemic: experience from a tertiary cancer center.

Support Care Cancer 2022 Mar 12;30(3):1993-2002. Epub 2021 Oct 12.

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Integrative Medicine, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd. Unit 1414, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Purpose: There is limited literature available regards the frequency and characteristics of COVID-19 + ve status among advanced cancer patients referred to an inpatient supportive care consultation(PC) at a tertiary cancer center. Our study aimed to determine the frequency and characteristics of COVID-19 + ve cancer patients seen by PC.

Methods: Advanced cancer patients seen as a consult by PC between June 15 and September 25, 2020, at MD Anderson Cancer Center were eligible for the study. We evaluated the patient demographics, clinical characteristics including symptoms(ESAS), delirium(MDAS), COVID + status prior to, and after PC referral(converters), and type of PC delivery(in person or virtual care).

Results: Sixty-six out of 1380 (4.8%) PC consults were COVID-19 + ve: 42 prior to PC (79%), and 14 (21%) were COVID-19 + ve after the PC (converters). COVID-19 + PC patients had lower depression (P = .035), spiritual distress (P = .003), and were more seen frequently virtually (P < 0.001). There was no significant difference between COVID-19-ve patients and converters. Converters had higher symptom distress (P = 0.007), lower delirium (P = 0.014), and were referred earlier (P = .011) compared to COVID + PC patients diagnosed prior to PC consult. Overall, patients seen virtually compared in-person by PC were younger (P = 0.02) and had lower delirium (P = 0.007).

Conclusion: The burden of COVID-19 + status among patients referred to PC was low. COVID-19 + ve patients had more frequent virtual visits, lower depression, and spiritual distress scores. Patient seen virtually were significantly younger and had lower delirium. During a new pandemic, universal virtual care might be emphasized especially at initial encounters after admission and further research is needed on the potential efficacy of this intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06525-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8505221PMC
March 2022

Anamorelin combined with physical activity, and nutritional counseling for cancer-related fatigue: a preliminary study.

Support Care Cancer 2022 Jan 31;30(1):497-509. Epub 2021 Jul 31.

Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX, USA.

Purpose: Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is the most frequent and debilitating symptom in patients with advanced cancer. There are limited effective treatments for CRF. The objective of this prospective longitudinal study was to evaluate the change in CRF at Day 43 after treatment with combination therapy of oral Anamorelin 100 mg daily with physical activity and nutrition counseling.

Methods: In this study, patients with CRF [≤ 34 Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue subscales(FACIT-F)] received Anamorelin 100 mg orally daily with standardized physical activity and nutrition counseling for 43 days. Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-F), Anorexia Cachexia(FAACT-ACS), Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory-Short Form(MFSI-SF), Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System(PROMIS-Fatigue), body composition, and physical performance tests were assessed at baseline, Day 15, 29, and 43. Frequency and type of side effects were determined by NCI CTAE 4.0.(NCT03035409).

Results: 28/45 (62%) of patients dosed were evaluable at Day 43. The mean, SD for FACIT-F subscale improvement from baseline was 4.89 (± 13.07), P = .058, MFSI-SF (G) - 3.46 (± 6.86), P = 0.013, PROMIS-fatigue - 4.14 (± 7.88), P = 0.010, FAACT ACS 3.48 (± 8.13), P = 0.035. Godin Liesure-Time physical activity questionnaire 7.41 (± 16.50), P = 0.038. Weight (kg) 1.81 (± 2.63), P = 0.005, and Lean Body Mass 1.54 (± 1.85), P = 0.001, IGF-1 36.50 (± 48.76), P = 0.015. There was no significant improvement in physical performance outcomes. No adverse events > grade 3 related to the study drug were reported.

Conclusion: The use of the combination therapy was associated with improvement of CRF (FACIT-F fatigue, PROMIS-fatigue, MFSI-SF-general), activity (Godin-leisure time), anorexia (FAACT), body composition, and IGF-1 levels. Further studies using combination therapy for CRF are justified.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06463-8DOI Listing
January 2022

Evaluation and Management of Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disturbance in Cancer.

Curr Treat Options Oncol 2021 07 2;22(9):81. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre, Ysbyty Gwynedd, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Bangor, UK.

Opinion Statement: Sleep and circadian rhythm disturbance are among the most commonly experienced symptoms in patients with cancer. These disturbances occur throughout the spectrum of cancer care from diagnosis, treatment, and long into survivorship. The pathogenesis of these symptoms and disturbances is based on common inflammatory pathways related to cancer and its' treatments. The evaluation of sleep and circadian disorders requires an understanding of how these symptoms cluster with other cancer-related symptoms and potentiate each other. A thorough evaluation of these symptoms and disorders utilizing validated diagnostic tools, directed review of clinical information, and diagnostic testing is recommended. Treatment of sleep and circadian disturbance in cancer patients should be based on the findings of a detailed evaluation, including specific treatment of primary sleep and circadian disorders, and utilize integrative and personalised management of cancer-related symptoms through multiple pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic modalities. Recognition, evaluation, and treatment of sleep and circadian rhythm disturbance in cancer may lead to improved symptom management, quality of life, and outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11864-021-00872-xDOI Listing
July 2021

Questionable Conceptualizations of Nonmedical Use Can Contribute to Needless Distress-Reply.

JAMA Oncol 2021 06;7(6):942-943

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.0572DOI Listing
June 2021

Genetic Factors Associated With Pain Severity, Daily Opioid Dose Requirement, and Pain Response Among Advanced Cancer Patients Receiving Supportive Care.

J Pain Symptom Manage 2021 10 10;62(4):785-795. Epub 2021 Apr 10.

Department of Palliative care, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Integrative Medicine UT MD Anderson Cancer Center (S.Y., C.R.-G., Z.L., J.L.W., S.-C.Y., A.E.A., E.B.), Houston, Texas.

Background: Current understanding of genetic factors associated with pain severity, and improvement of pain with opioids in advanced cancer patients (AC) is inadequate for delivery of personalized pain therapy (PPT). Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the genetic factors associated with pain severity, daily opioid dose, and pain response in AC patients receiving supportive care.

Methods: In this prospective study, AC patients were eligible if they had cancer pain ≥4/10 on Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) - Pain Item and needed opioid rotation for pain control by specialist at the outpatient supportive care center. Association of genetic factors with pain phenotype was assessed using logistic regression models and SKATO (Gene-block) analysis.

Results: About 174/178 (98%) patient samples were analyzed. After adjustment for demographic and clinical variables, pain severity was negatively associated with intron variant alleles in OPRM1 rs9322446, P = 0.02; rs2270459, P = 0.038; rs62052210, P = 0.038. Opioid daily dose was positively associated NFKBIA rs2233419, P = 0.008; rs2233417, P = 0.007; rs3138054, P = 0.008; rs1050851, P = 0.015; ORPM1 rs9479759, P = 0.046; rs2003185, P = 0.047; rs636433, P = 0.044; COMT (rs9306234, P = 0.014; rs165728, P = 0.014; rs2020917, P = 0.036; rs165728, P = 0.034); ARRB2 (rs1045280, P = 0.045); and pain response to opioids was negatively associated OPRM1 rs1319339, P = 0.024; rs34427887, P = 0.048; and COMT rs4646316, P = 0.03; rs35478083, P = 0.028, respectively. SKATO analysis showed association between pain severity and CXCL8 (P = 0.0056), and STAT6 (P = 0.0297) genes respectively, and pain response with IL-6 (P = 0.00499).

Conclusions: This study identified that SNPs of OPRM1, COMT, NFKBIA, CXCL8, IL-6, STAT6, and ARRB2 genes were associated with pain severity, opioid daily dose, and pain response in AC receiving supportive care. Additional studies are needed to validate our findings for PPT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2021.03.024DOI Listing
October 2021

Frequency of and Factors Associated With Nonmedical Opioid Use Behavior Among Patients With Cancer Receiving Opioids for Cancer Pain.

JAMA Oncol 2021 Mar;7(3):404-411

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Importance: One of the main aims of research on nonmedical opioid use (NMOU) is to reduce the frequency of NMOU behaviors through interventions such as universal screening, reduced opioid exposure, and more intense follow-up of patients with elevated risk. The absence of data on the frequency of NMOU behavior is the major barrier to conducting research on NMOU.

Objective: To determine the overall frequency of and the independent predictors for NMOU behavior.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this prognostic study, 3615 patients with cancer were referred to the supportive care center at MD Anderson Cancer Center from March 18, 2016, to June 6, 2018. Patients were eligible for inclusion if they had cancer and were taking opioids for cancer pain for at least 1 week. Patients were excluded if they had no follow-up within 3 months of initial consultation, did not complete the appropriate questionnaire, or did not have scheduled opioid treatments. After exclusion, a total of 1554 consecutive patients were assessed for NMOU behavior using established diagnostic criteria. All patients were assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale, the Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain (SOAPP), and the Cut Down, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye Opener-Adapted to Include Drugs (CAGE-AID) survey. Data were analyzed from January 6 to September 25, 2020.

Results: A total of 1554 patients (median [interquartile range (IQR)] age, 61 [IQR, 52-69] years; 816 women [52.5%]; 1124 White patients [72.3%]) were evaluable for the study, and 299 patients (19.2%) had 1 or more NMOU behaviors. The median (IQR) number of NMOU behaviors per patient was 1 (IQR, 1-3). A total of 576 of 745 NMOU behaviors (77%) occurred by the first 2 follow-up visits. The most frequent NMOU behavior was unscheduled clinic visits for inappropriate refills (218 of 745 [29%]). Eighty-eight of 299 patients (29.4%) scored 7 or higher on SOAPP, and 48 (16.6%) scored at least 2 out of 4 points on the CAGE-AID survey. Results from the multivariate model suggest that marital status (single, hazard ratio [HR], 1.58; 95% CI, 1.15-2.18; P = .005; divorced, HR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.01-2.03; P = .04), SOAPP score (positive vs negative, HR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.04-1.74; P = .02), morphine equivalent daily dose (MEDD) (HR, 1.003; 95% CI, 1.002-1.004; P < .001), and Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale pain level (HR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.06-1.16; P < .001) were independently associated with the presence of NMOU behavior. In recursive partition analysis, single marital status, MEDD greater than 50 mg, and SOAPP scores greater than 7 were associated with a higher risk (56%) for the presence of NMOU behavior.

Conclusions And Relevance: This prognostic study of patients with cancer taking opioids for cancer pain found that 19% of patients developed NMOU behavior within a median duration of 8 weeks after initial supportive care clinic consultation. Marital status (single or divorced), SOAPP score greater than 7, higher levels of pain severity, and MEDD level were independently associated with NMOU behavior. This information will assist clinicians and investigators designing clinical and research programs in this important field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.6789DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7791402PMC
March 2021

Fixed-Dose Netupitant and Palonosetron for Chronic Nausea in Cancer Patients: A Double-Blind, Placebo Run-in Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial.

J Pain Symptom Manage 2021 08 1;62(2):223-232.e1. Epub 2021 Jan 1.

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

Context: No clinical trials have examined the effect of netupitant/palonosetron (NEPA) on chronic nausea in patients with cancer.

Objectives: In this pilot randomized trial, we assessed the efficacy of NEPA and placebo on chronic nausea.

Methods: This double-blind, parallel, randomized trial enrolled patients with cancer and chronic nausea for at least 1 month, intensity ≥4/10 and not on moderately or highly emetogenic systemic therapies. Patients started with a placebo run-in period from days 1 to 5; those without a placebo response proceeded to the double-blinded phase between days 6 to 15 (NEPA: placebo 2:1 ratio). The primary outcome was within-group change in average nausea over the 24 hours on a 0-10 numeric rating scale between day 5 and 15.

Results: Among the 53 enrolled patients, 46 proceeded to placebo run-in and 33 had blinded treatment (22 NEPA and 11 placebo). We observed a statistically significant within-group improvement in nausea numeric rating scale between day 5 and 15 in the NEPA group (mean change, -2.0; 95% CI, -3.1 to -0.8) and the placebo group (mean change, -2.3; 95% CI, -3.9 to -0.7). A complete response was achieved in 8 (38%) patients in the NEPA group and 2 (20%) in the placebo group by day 15. No grade 3-4 toxicities were attributed to NEPA. There were no statistically significant between-group differences for the primary/secondary outcomes.

Conclusions: NEPA and placebo were associated with similar magnitude of within-group improvement in chronic nausea without significant between-group differences (Clinicaltrials.gov NCT03040726).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2020.12.023DOI Listing
August 2021

Random urine drug testing among patients receiving opioid therapy for cancer pain.

Cancer 2021 03 24;127(6):968-975. Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: There is limited information regarding the true frequency of nonmedical opioid use (NMOU) among patients receiving opioid therapy for cancer pain. Data to guide patient selection for urine drug testing (UDT) as well as the timing and frequency of ordering UDT are insufficient. This study examined the frequency of abnormal UDT among patients with cancer who underwent random UDT and their characteristics.

Methods: Demographic and clinical information for patients with cancer who underwent random UDT were retrospectively reviewed and compared with a historical cohort that underwent targeted UDT. Random UDT was ordered regardless of a patient's risk potential for NMOU. Targeted UDT was ordered on the basis of a physician's estimation of a patient's risk for NMOU.

Results: In all, 552 of 573 eligible patients (96%) underwent random UDT. Among these patients, 130 (24%) had 1 or more abnormal results; 38 of the 88 patients (43%) who underwent targeted UDT had 1 or more abnormal results. When marijuana was excluded, 15% of the random group and 37% of the targeted group had abnormal UDT findings (P < .001). It took a shorter time from the initial consultation to detect 1 or more abnormalities with the random test than the targeted test (median, 130 vs 274 days; P = .02). Abnormal random UDT was independently associated with younger age (P < .0001), male sex (P = .03), Cut Down, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye Opener-Adapted to Include Drugs positivity (P = .001), and higher Edmonton Symptom Assessment System anxiety (P = .01).

Conclusions: Approximately 1 in 4 patients receiving opioids for cancer pain at a supportive care clinic who underwent random UDT had 1 or more abnormalities. Random UDT detected abnormalities earlier than the targeted test. These findings suggest that random UDT is justified among patients with cancer pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33326DOI Listing
March 2021

The development of a nomogram to determine the frequency of elevated risk for non-medical opioid use in cancer patients.

Palliat Support Care 2021 02;19(1):3-10

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Objective: Non-medical opioid use (NMOU) is a growing crisis. Cancer patients at elevated risk of NMOU (+risk) are frequently underdiagnosed. The aim of this paper was to develop a nomogram to predict the probability of +risk among cancer patients receiving outpatient supportive care consultation at a comprehensive cancer center.

Method: 3,588 consecutive patients referred to a supportive care clinic were reviewed. All patients had a diagnosis of cancer and were on opioids for pain. All patients were assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain (SOAPP-14), and CAGE-AID (Cut Down-Annoyed-Guilty-Eye Opener) questionnaires. "+risk" was defined as an SOAPP-14 score of ≥7. A nomogram was devised based on the risk factors determined by the multivariate logistic regression model to estimate the probability of +risk.

Results: 731/3,588 consults were +risk. +risk was significantly associated with gender, race, marital status, smoking status, depression, anxiety, financial distress, MEDD (morphine equivalent daily dose), and CAGE-AID score. The C-index was 0.8. A nomogram was developed and can be accessed at https://is.gd/soappnomogram. For example, for a male Hispanic patient, married, never smoked, with ESAS scores for depression = 3, anxiety = 3, financial distress = 7, a CAGE score of 0, and an MEDD score of 20, the total score is 9 + 9+0 + 0+6 + 10 + 23 + 0+1 = 58. A nomogram score of 58 indicates the probability of +risk of 0.1.

Significance Of Results: We established a practical nomogram to assess the +risk. The application of a nomogram based on routinely collected clinical data can help clinicians establish patients with +risk and positively impact care planning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1478951520000322DOI Listing
February 2021

Sleep disturbance in patients with cancer: a feasibility study of multimodal therapy.

BMJ Support Palliat Care 2021 Jun 10;11(2):170-179. Epub 2020 Jan 10.

Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

Background: Our aim was to determine feasibility and effect sizes of bright light therapy (BLT), melatonin (MLT), methylphenidate (MP) and eight combinations (BLT+MLT+MP, BLT+MLT, BLT+MP, BLT alone, MLT+MP, MLT alone, MP alone, placebo for BLT, MLT and MP) defined as multimodal therapy (MMT), to improve sleep quality (SQ) (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)) from baseline to day 15. We also examined the effects of MMT on insomnia, fatigue, depression, quality of life and actigraphy.

Methods: Patients with advanced cancer with poor SQ (PSQI ≥5) were eligible. Using a double-blind randomised factorial study design, patients were randomised into 1 of the 8 arms for 2 weeks. Feasibility and effect sizes were assessed.

Results: 81% (54/67) of randomised patients completed the study. There were no differences in the demographics and SQ between groups. The adherence rates for BLT, MLT and MP were 93%, 100% and 100%, respectively. BLT+MLT+placebo of MP; BLT+placebo of MLT+placebo of MP; BLT+MLT+MP showed an effect size (Cohen's d) for change in PSQI scores of 0.64, 0.57 and 0.63, respectively. PSQI change using linear regression showed BLT (n=29) has effect size of 0.46, p=0.017; MLT (n=26), 0.24, p=0.20; MP (n=26), 0.06, p=0.46. No significant differences were observed in scores for insomnia, fatigue, depression, quality of life and actigraphy. There were no differences in adverse events by groups(p=0.80).

Conclusions: The use of MMT to treat SQ disturbance was feasible. BLT+MLT showed the most promising effect size in improvement in SQ, and additional larger studies are needed.

Trial Registration Number: NCT01628029.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjspcare-2019-001877DOI Listing
June 2021

Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes-Palliative Care in Africa Program: Improving Access to Quality Palliative Care.

J Glob Oncol 2019 07;5:1-8

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Purpose: There is limited access to quality palliative care (PC) for patients with advanced cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. Our aim was to describe the development of the Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes-Palliative Care in Africa (ECHO-PACA) program and describe a preliminary evaluation of attitudes and knowledge of participants regarding the ability of the program to deliver quality PC.

Methods: An interdisciplinary team at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, guided by experts in PC in sub-Saharan Africa, adapted a standardized curriculum based on PC needs in the region. Participants were then recruited, and monthly telementoring sessions were held for 16 months. The monthly telementoring sessions consisted of case presentations, discussions, and didactic lectures. Program participants came from 14 clinics and teaching hospitals in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia. Participants were surveyed at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the 16-month program to evaluate changes in attitudes and knowledge of PC.

Results: The median number of participants per session was 30. Thirty-three (83%) of 40 initial participants completed the feedback survey. Health care providers' self-reported confidence in providing PC increased with participation in the Project ECHO-PACA clinic. There was significant improvement in the participants' attitudes and knowledge, especially in titrating opioids for pain control ( = .042), appropriate use of non-opioid analgesics ( = .012), and identifying and addressing communication issues related to end-of-life care ( = .014).

Conclusion: Project ECHO-PACA was a successful approach for disseminating knowledge about PC. The participants were adherent to ECHO PACA clinics and the completion of feedback surveys. Future studies should evaluate the impact of Project ECHO-PACA on changes in provider practice as well as patient outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JGO.19.00128DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6776016PMC
July 2019

Patient's Decisional Control Preferences of a Cohort of Patients With Advanced Cancer Receiving Palliative Care in India.

J Palliat Care 2019 Jul 13;34(3):175-180. Epub 2019 Feb 13.

1 Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

Context: Frequency of passive decisional control preferences (DCPs) has been variably reported but is generally higher among patients living in developing countries.

Objectives: This prospective cross-sectional study aimed to determine the frequency of passive DCP among patients with advanced cancer in a tertiary cancer center in India and to identify its association with their sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.

Methods: Patients with advanced cancer referred to palliative care (between March and August 2016) underwent assessment of DCP using validated tools including Control Preference Scale, Satisfaction with Decision Scale, and understanding of illness questionnaire. Information regarding patient characteristics including age, gender, education, marital status, employment, Karnofsky Performance Status Scale (KPS), cancer stage and type, and religion were also collected. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were performed.

Results: Median age 48 years, Karnofsky 90, and 55.3% were men. Shared, active (patient prefers to make decision by his or her own), and passive DCP were 20.7%, 26.7%, and 52.7%, respectively (n = 150). A total of 51.3% were satisfied by the way the actual decisions were made. Passive DCP did not vary across regions. Multivariate analysis shows that the active DCP was significantly associated with better KPS (exp 1.07 [1.01-1.15], = .03).

Conclusions: There are significant differences in DCP with KPS. Patients report a high level of satisfaction with their treatment decision-making process, though they have a poor understanding of their prognosis and goals of care and understand their treatment to be of curative intent. Individualized understanding of DCP and focus on illness understanding may be important for quality care and patient satisfaction outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0825859719827316DOI Listing
July 2019

Prokinetics and ghrelin for the management of cancer cachexia syndrome.

Ann Palliat Med 2019 Jan 5;8(1):80-85. Epub 2018 Nov 5.

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Cancer cachexia (CC) is one of the most distressing syndromes for both patients and their families. CC can have an impact on patient reported quality of life and overall survival. It is often associated with symptoms such as fatigue, depressed mood, early satiety, and anorexia. Prokinetic agents have been found to improve chronic nausea and early satiety associated with CC. Among the prokinetic agents, metoclopramide is one of the best studied medications. The role of the other prokinetic agents, such as domperidone, erythromycin, haloperidol, levosulpiride, tegaserod, cisapride, mosapride, renzapride, and prucalopride is unclear for use in cachectic cancer patients due to their side effect profile and limited efficacy studies in cancer patients. There has been an increased interest in the use of ghrelin-receptor agonists for the treatment of CC. Anamorelin HCl is a highly selective, novel ghrelin receptor agonist. A meta-analysis was conducted of the recent randomized trials using anamorelin (daily dose of 50 and 100 mg daily). Results show that both total body weight and lean body mass were significantly increased from baseline in the anamorelin group. Anamorelin did not improve overall survival or hand grip strength, and there were no significant differences between groups for frequency or severity of any adverse events. In this review, the authors discuss the available evidence for the use of prokinetics such as metoclopramide and ghrelin receptor agonists for the treatment of CC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21037/apm.2018.11.01DOI Listing
January 2019

Frequency and characteristics of drowsiness, somnolence, or daytime sleepiness in patients with advanced cancer.

Palliat Support Care 2019 08;17(4):459-463

Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Introduction: Cancer-related drowsiness (CRD) is a distressing symptom in advanced cancer patients (ACP). The aim of this study was to determine the frequency and factors associated with severity of CRD. We also evaluated the screening performance of Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale-drowsiness (ESAS-D) item against the Epworth Sedation Scale (ESS).

Method: We prospectively assessed 180 consecutive ACP at a tertiary cancer hospital. Patients were surveyed using ESAS, ESS, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Insomnia Severity Index, and Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale.

Result: Ninety of 150 evaluable patients had clinically significant CRD (ESS); median (interquartile ratio): ESS. 11 (7-14); ESAS-D. 5 (2-6); Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. 8 (5-11); Insomnia Severity Index. 13 (5-19); Stop Bang Scoring 3 (2-4), and Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale-D 6 (3-10). ESAS-D was associated with ESAS (r, p) sleep (0.38, <0.0001); pain (0.3, <0.0001); fatigue (0.51, <0.0001); depression (0.39, <0.0001); anxiety (0.44, <0.0001); shortness of breath (0.32, <0.0001); anorexia (0.36, <0.0001), feeling of well-being [(0.41, <0.0001), ESS (0.24, 0.001), and opioid daily dose (0.19, 0.01). Multivariate-analysis showed ESAS-D was associated with fatigue (odds ratio [OR] = 9.08, p < 0.0001), anxiety (3.0, p = 0.009); feeling of well-being (OR = 2.27, p = 0.04), and insomnia (OR = 2.35; p = 0.036). Insomnia (OR = 2.35; p = 0.036) cutoff score ≥3 (of 10) resulted in a sensitivity of 81% and 32% and specificity of 70% and 44% in the training and validation samples, respectively.

Significance Of Results: Clinically significant CRD is frequent and seen in 50% of ACP. CRD was associated with severity of insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, and worse feeling of well-being. An ESAS-D score of ≥3 is likely to identify most of the ACP with significant CRD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1478951518000779DOI Listing
August 2019

Patterns of Opioid Prescription, Use, and Costs Among Patients With Advanced Cancer and Inpatient Palliative Care Between 2008 and 2014.

J Oncol Pract 2019 01 29;15(1):e74-e83. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

1 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Purpose: An understanding of opioid prescription and cost patterns is important to optimize pain management for patients with advanced cancer. This study aimed to determine opioid prescription and cost patterns and to identify opioid prescription predictors in patients with advanced cancer who received inpatient palliative care (IPC).

Materials And Methods: We reviewed data from 807 consecutive patients with cancer who received IPC in each October from 2008 through 2014. Patient characteristics; opioid types; morphine equivalent daily dose (MEDD) in milligrams per day of scheduled opioids before, during, and after hospitalization; and in-admission opioid cost per patient were assessed. We determined symptom changes between baseline and follow-up palliative care visits and the in-admission opioid prescription predictors.

Results: A total of 714 (88%) of the 807 patients were evaluable. The median MEDD per patient decreased from 150 mg/d in 2008 to 83 mg/d in 2014 ( P < .001). The median opioid cost per patient decreased and then increased from $22.97 to $40.35 over the 7 years ( P = .03). The median MEDDs increased from IPC to discharge by 67% ( P < .001). The median Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale pain improvement at follow-up was 1 ( P < .001). Younger patients with advanced cancer (odds ratio [OR[, 0.95; P < . 001) were prescribed higher preadmission MEDDs (OR, 1.01; P < .001) more often in the earlier study years (2014 v 2009: OR, 0.18 [ P = .004] v 0.30 [ P = .02]) and tended to use high MEDDs (> 75 mg/d) during hospitalization.

Conclusion: The MEDD per person decreased from 2008 to 2014. The opioid cost per patient decreased from 2008 to 2011 and then increased from 2012 to 2014. Age, prescription year, and preadmission opioid doses were significantly associated with opioid doses prescribed to patients with advanced cancer who received IPC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JOP.18.00205DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333384PMC
January 2019

Frequency, Outcomes, and Associated Factors for Opioid-Induced Neurotoxicity in Patients with Advanced Cancer Receiving Opioids in Inpatient Palliative Care.

J Palliat Med 2018 12 27;21(12):1698-1704. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Opioid-induced neurotoxicity (OIN) is an underdiagnosed yet distressing symptom in palliative care patients receiving opioids. However, there have been only a limited number of studies on OIN. Our aim was to determine the frequency of and risk factors for OIN in patients receiving opioids during inpatient palliative care. We randomly selected 390 of 3014 eligible patients who had undergone palliative care consultations from January 2014 to December 2014. Delirium, drowsiness, hallucinations, myoclonus, seizures, and hyperalgesia were defined as OIN and were recorded. The other 10 common symptoms in cancer patients were assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS). Patient demographics, morphine equivalent daily dose (MEDD), comorbidities, OIN management, and overall survival (OS) duration were also assessed. The associations between the incidence of OIN and MEDD, the other 10 symptoms, and OS were analyzed. Fifty-seven (15%) patients had OIN. The most common symptom was delirium ( = 27). On multivariate analysis, a high MEDD ( = 0.020), high ESAS pain score ( = 0.043), drowsiness ( = 0.007), and a poor appetite ( = 0.014) were significantly associated with OIN. OIN was not significantly associated with a shorter OS duration ( = 0.80). OIN was seen in 15% of patients receiving opioids as part of inpatient palliative care. Although OIN was not associated with OS, routine monitoring is especially needed in cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2018.0169DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6308282PMC
December 2018

Predicting the risk for aberrant opioid use behavior in patients receiving outpatient supportive care consultation at a comprehensive cancer center.

Cancer 2018 10 7;124(19):3942-3949. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Background: Opioid misuse is a growing crisis. Patients with cancer who are at risk of aberrant drug behaviors are frequently underdiagnosed. The primary objective of this study was to determine the frequency and factors predicting a risk for aberrant opioid and drug use behaviors (ADB) among patients who received an outpatient supportive care consultation at a comprehensive cancer center. In addition, the screening performance of the Cut Down-Annoyed-Guilty-Eye Opener (CAGE) questionnaire adapted to include drug use (CAGE-AID) was compared with that of the 14-item Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients With Pain (SOAPP-14) tool as instruments for identifying patients at risk for ADB.

Methods: In total, 751 consecutive patients with cancer who were referred to a supportive care clinic were reviewed. Patients were eligible if they had diagnosis of cancer and had received opioids for pain for at least 1 week. All patients were assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), the SOAPP-14, and the CAGE-AID. SOAPP scores ≥7 (SOAPP-positive) were used to identify patients who were at risk of ADB.

Results: Among the 729 of 751 (97%) evaluable consults, 143 (19.6%) were SOAPP-positive, and 73 (10.5%) were CAGE-AID-positive. Multivariate analysis revealed that the odds ratio of a positive SOAPP score was 2.3 for patients who had positive CAGE-AID scores (P < .0001), 2.08 for men (P = .0013), 1.10 per point for ESAS pain (P = .014), 1.13 per point for ESAS anxiety (P = .0015), and 1.09 per point for ESAS financial distress (P = .012). A CAGE-AID cutoff score of 1 in 4 had 43.3% sensitivity and 90.93% specificity for screening patients with a high risk of ADB.

Conclusions: The current results indicate a high frequency of an elevated risk of ADB among patients with cancer. Men and patients who have anxiety, financial distress, and a prior history of alcoholism/illicit drug use are at increased risk of ADB.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.31670DOI Listing
October 2018

Outcomes of Embedded Palliative Care Outpatients Initial Consults on Timing of Palliative Care Access, Symptoms, and End-of-Life Quality Care Indicators among Advanced Nonsmall Cell Lung Cancer Patients.

J Palliat Med 2018 Aug 1. Epub 2018 Aug 1.

1 Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center , Houston, Texas.

Objective: To determine the timing of palliative care (PC) access, symptoms, and end-of-life (EOL) quality care outcomes of patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) referred to outpatients embedded palliative care consults (EPC) compared with those of outpatients palliative care consults (OPC).

Background: There are no studies comparing the outcomes of outpatients EPC consults with those of stand-alone OPC consults among patients with NSCLC.

Design: The design consists of a random sample of OPC consults (January 2009 to July 2012) and EPC consults (August 2012 to June 2013) at MD Anderson Cancer Center. After the initial consult, all EPC follow-ups occurred at the OPC clinic.

Measurements: Patients' characteristics, symptoms (assessed by Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale), time from referral to first consult, overall survival from consult to death, and EOL quality care outcomes (ICU admissions, emergency center visits, hospitalizations within last 30 days, cancer treatments within last 14 days, hospice referrals, advanced care planning [ACP] discussions, and completion of advanced directives) were reviewed.

Results: A total of 340 consults were included (EPC consults = 147). Baseline Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group status (2.2 vs. 1.9, p < 0.001) and median pain (6 vs. 5, p = 0.038) were higher among EPC consults. In EPC consults, time from referral to first consult was shorter (median: 0 day vs. 7 days, p < 0.001), and ACP discussions occurred more frequently (90% vs. 77%, p = 0.026), and earlier (median: 2 month vs. 1 month before death, p = 0.018). No other significant differences in symptoms, EOL outcomes, or survival were observed.

Conclusions: EPC consults plus OPC follow-ups accessed PC earlier, and had more frequent and earlier ACP discussions as compared with OPC consults. Embedded palliative cancer care might not be the ideal model for an initial PC consultation. Further research is necessary.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2018.0134DOI Listing
August 2018

Association between Advanced Cancer Patients' Perception of Curability and Patients' Characteristics, Decisional Control Preferences, Symptoms, and End-of-Life Quality Care Outcomes.

J Palliat Med 2018 11 26;21(11):1609-1616. Epub 2018 Jul 26.

1 Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center , Houston, Texas.

Background: There are limited studies on factors associated with cancer patients' perception of curability.

Objective: To examine advanced cancer patient's perception of curability and its association with patient's sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, decisional control preference (DCP), symptoms, and end-of-life quality care outcomes.

Design: Secondary analysis of a study to determine the DCP and illness understanding of advanced cancer patients receiving palliative care (PC).

Measurements: Data of the Illness Understanding survey, the Control Preference Scale, and demographics, symptoms, and end-of-life quality care outcomes were reviewed.

Results: Of 121 patients, 104 (86%) were evaluable. Median age was 56 years, 60% were women, and 64% had a Karnofsky performance status ≤60. Thirty-seven percent inaccurately reported that their cancer was curable. Patients with accurate perception were more likely to choose a passive DCP (20% vs. 2.6%, p = 0.04). An accurate perception of curability was associated with a longer time from advanced cancer diagnosis to PC referral (odds ratio [OR] = 1.04, p = 0.04). There was a trend toward an association between inaccurate perception of curability, male gender (OR = 0.29, p = 0.09), and intensive care unit admission within 30 days of death (OR = 0.26, p = 0.09). No other significant associations between perception of curability and patients' demographics, clinical characteristics, symptoms, or end-of-life quality care outcomes were found.

Conclusions: Thirty-seven percent of advanced cancer patients receiving PC inaccurately perceived their disease curable. These patients were more likely to have earlier PC referrals. An accurate perception of curability was associated with passive DCP. Further studies are needed to test effective communication strategies to mitigate this misperception.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2018.0186DOI Listing
November 2018

Development and validation of a prognostic nomogram for ambulatory patients with advanced cancer.

Cancer Med 2018 Jun 1. Epub 2018 Jun 1.

Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas, Houston, TX, USA.

Predicting survival of advanced cancer patients (ACPs) is a difficult task. We aimed at developing and testing a new prognostic tool in ACPs when they were first referred to palliative care (PC). A total of 497 patients were analyzed in this study (development sample, n = 221; validation sample, n = 276). From 35 initial putative prognostic variables, 14 of them were selected for multivariable Cox regression analyses; the most accurate final model was identified by backward variable elimination. Parameters were built into a nomogram to estimate the probability of patient survival at 30, 90, and 180 days. Calibration and discrimination properties of the Barretos Prognostic Nomogram (BPN) were evaluated in the validation phase of the study. The BPN was composed of 5 parameters: sex, presence of distant metastasis, Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), white blood cell (WBC) count, and serum albumin concentration. The C-index was 0.71. The values of the area under the curve (AUC) of the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve were 0.84, 0.74, and 0.74 at 30, 90, and 180 days, respectively. There were good calibration results according to the Hosmer-Lemeshow test. The median survival times were 313, 129, and 37 days for the BPN scores <25th percentile (<125), 25th to 75th percentile (125-175), and >75th percentile (>175), respectively (P < .001). The BPN is a new prognostic tool with adequate calibration and discrimination properties. It is now available to assist oncologists and palliative care physicians in estimating the survival of adult patients with advanced solid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.1582DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6051167PMC
June 2018

Letter to the Editor: Chicken Noodle Soup (Capsule) for the Soul?

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2018 02;16(2):108-109

The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, E-mail:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2017.7060DOI Listing
February 2018

Decisional control preferences among patients with advanced cancer: An international multicenter cross-sectional survey.

Palliat Med 2018 04 13;32(4):870-880. Epub 2017 Dec 13.

1 Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: Understanding patients' decision control preferences is important in providing quality cancer care. Patients' decisional control preference can be either active (patients prefer to make decisions themselves), shared (collaborative between patient, their physician, and/or family), or passive (patients prefer that the decisions are made by either the physician and/or their family).

Aim: To determine the frequency and predictors of passive decision control preferences among advanced cancer patients. We also determined the concordance between actual decision-making and decision control preferences and its association with patient satisfaction.

Design: In this cross-sectional survey of advanced cancer patients referred to palliative care across 11 countries, we evaluated sociodemographic variables, Control Preference Scale, and satisfaction with the decisions and care.

Results: A total of 1490 participants were evaluable. Shared, active, and passive decision control preferences were 33%, 44%, and 23%, respectively. Passive decision control preferences (odds ratio, p value) was more frequent in India (4.34, <0.001), Jordan (3.41, <0.001), and France (3.27, <0.001). Concordance between the actual decision-making and decision control preferences was highest in the United States ( k = 0.74) and lowest in Brazil (0.34). Passive decision control preference was significantly associated with (odds ratio per point, p value) better performance status (0.99/point, 0.017), higher education (0.64, 0.001), and country of origin (Brazil (0.26, <0.0001), Singapore (0.25, 0.0003), South Africa (0.32, 0.0002), and Jordan (2.33, 0.0037)).

Conclusion: Passive decision control preferences were less common (23%) than shared and active decision control preference even among developing countries. Significant predictors of passive decision control preferences were performance status, education, and country of origin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269216317747442DOI Listing
April 2018

Perception of Curability Among Advanced Cancer Patients: An International Collaborative Study.

Oncologist 2018 04 20;23(4):501-506. Epub 2017 Nov 20.

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Barretos, Brazil.

Background: There are limited data on illness understanding and perception of cure among advanced cancer patients around the world. The aim of the study was to determine the frequency and factors associated with inaccurate perception of curability among advanced cancer patients receiving palliative care across the globe.

Materials And Methods: Secondary analysis of a study to understand the core concepts in end-of-life care among advanced cancer patients receiving palliative care from 11 countries across the world. Advanced cancer patients were surveyed using a Patient Illness Understanding survey and Control Preference Scale. Descriptive statistics and multicovariate logistic regression analysis were performed.

Results: Fifty-five percent (763/1,390) of patients receiving palliative care inaccurately reported that their cancer is curable. The median age was 58, 55% were female, 59% were married or had a partner, 48% were Catholic, and 35% were college educated. Sixty-eight percent perceived that the goal of therapy was "to get rid of their cancer," and 47% perceived themselves as "seriously ill." Multicovariate logistic regression analysis shows that accurate perception of curability was associated with female gender (odds ratio [OR] 0.73,  = .027), higher education (OR 0.37,  < .0001), unemployment status (OR 0.69,  = .02), and being from France (OR 0.26,  < .0001) and South Africa (OR 0.52,  = .034); inaccurate perception of curability was associated with better Karnofsky performance status (OR 1.02 per point,  = .0005), and being from Philippines (OR 15.49,  < .0001), Jordan (OR 8.43,  < .0001), Brazil (OR 2.17,  = .0037), and India (OR 2.47,  = .039).

Conclusion: Inaccurate perception of curability in advanced cancer patients is 55% and significantly differs by gender, education, performance status, employment status, and country of origin. Further studies are needed to develop strategies to reduce this misperception of curability in advanced cancer patients.

Implications For Practice: The findings of this study indicate that inaccurate perception of curability among advanced cancer patients is 55%. Inaccurate perception of curability significantly differs by gender, education, performance status, employment status, and country of origin. There is great need to facilitate improved patient-physician communication so as to improve health care outcomes and patient satisfaction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2017-0264DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5896700PMC
April 2018

Timing of Referral and Characteristics of Uninsured, Medicaid, and Insured Patients Referred to the Outpatient Supportive Care Center at a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

J Pain Symptom Manage 2018 03 10;55(3):973-978. Epub 2017 Nov 10.

Department of Palliative Care, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA. Electronic address:

Context: Low-income patients face barriers to palliative care access, which might negatively influence symptom management and advanced care planning.

Objective: Our aim was to compare time of referral and characteristics (level of symptom distress) among uninsured (indigent), low-insured (Medicaid), and insured patients presenting to our supportive care center (SCC).

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of randomly selected 100 indigent, 100 Medicaid, and 300 insured outpatients referred during the same five-year period. We reviewed demographic and clinical characteristics including date of diagnosis of advanced cancer and of first visit to SCC, symptom assessment (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System), type and dose of opioid medication, number of total outpatient visits, and date of last contact with palliative care team.

Results: Among 482 evaluable patients, indigent, Medicaid, and insured patients, respectively, had mean (SD) ages of 48 (11), 50 (12), and 63 (13) years (P < 0.001); Edmonton Symptom Assessment System pain scores at first visit of 6.7 (2.5), 5.6 (3.2), and 4.9 (3.2) (P < 0.001); nonwhite race in 60%, 49%, and 25% of cases (P < 0.001); unmarried status in 68%, 64%, and 33% of cases (P < 0.001), while 63%, 87%, and 54% of patients (P < 0.001) were on opioids with median number of encounters per month of 0.6, 0.8, and 0.5 (P = 0.001). Median survival (95% CI) from first visit to last contact was 4.6 (2.8-6.2), 5.4 (3.5-7), and 5.6 (4.7-7.3) months (P = 0.036).

Conclusion: Patients with limited or no insurance had significantly higher pain and were more frequently on opioids, younger, nonwhite, and not married. They required higher number of SCC follow-up visits. Insurance status did not affect timing of SCC referral or follow-ups at our cancer center.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2017.10.025DOI Listing
March 2018
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