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03.05.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 10/2018

Supportive Care in Cancer 10/2018

The timeliness of patients reporting the side effects of chemotherapy

Zeitschrift:
Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 10/2018
Autoren:
Ian Olver, Mariko Carey, Allison Boyes, Alix Hall, Natasha Noble, Jamie Bryant, Justin Walsh, Rob Sanson-Fisher
Wichtige Hinweise

Relevance

Understanding how patients intend to report side effects allows the development of educational tools to help patients better understand the side effects of chemotherapy and the need to promptly report potentially life-threatening side effects.

Abstract

Purpose

To explore the actions cancer patients reported they would take in response to a range of common side effects of chemotherapy and whether these were considered appropriate based on current guidelines and evidence; and to explore the sociodemographic and cancer-related variables associated with patients selecting the appropriate action (immediate medical attention or reporting) for two potentially life-threatening side effects: fever, and unusual bleeding and bruising.

Methods

Four hundred thirty-six medical oncology and haematology patients receiving chemotherapy completed two surveys to provide demographic, disease and treatment characteristics, and details on how they would respond if they experienced a range of specified side effects of chemotherapy (for example, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and skin rash or nail changes). The proportion of patients reporting the appropriate action for each side effect was calculated. Multiple logistic regressions examined the patient demographic and cancer characteristics associated with selecting the appropriate action (seeking immediate medical attention) for two potentially life-threatening side effects of chemotherapy: high fever of 38 °C or more, and unusual bleeding or bruising.

Results

Two thirds of patients indicated that they would seek immediate medical attention for high fever (67%), but only 41% would seek immediate attention for bleeding or bruising. Cancer type and time since diagnosis were significantly associated with patients indicating that they would seek immediate medical attention for high fever; while time since diagnosis was the only variable significantly associated with patients reporting that they would seek immediate medical attention for unusual bleeding or bruising. For chronic side effects, like skin rash or nail changes, and tingling or numbness, which usually do not require urgent reporting, only between 12 and 16% would report them immediately. A significant proportion of patients reported that they would “do nothing” about fatigue or tiredness (24%). By comparison, less than 10% patients reported that they would do nothing for the other side effects investigated.

Conclusions

Tools need to be created so that patients better understand the side effects after being treated with chemotherapy and what action they should take.

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