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Cancer Patients Need More Info on Side Effects of Radiation Tx

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 27, 2019 -- Although most cancer patients do not experience anticipated potential adverse effects of radiation therapy, more than one-third have adverse effects that they wish they had known more about, according to a study published online Nov. 20 in the Journal of Oncology Practice.

Narek Shaverdian, M.D., from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues administered a web-based survey in a nationwide sample of U.S. patients with cancer treated with radiotherapy within the past five years. Patient perceptions of adequacy of information about adverse effects were assessed.

The researchers found that 18 percent of 403 respondents felt inadequately informed about expected adverse effects from radiotherapy, while 37 percent experienced adverse effects that they would have wanted to know more about. Similar proportions of patients treated with chemotherapy and surgery reported experiencing toxicities that they wished they had known more about (36 and 34 percent, respectively). The likelihood of feeling informed about radiotherapy adverse effects was increased for patients who noted their adverse effects to be minimal versus severe (odds ratio, 13.05). A majority of patients indicated that they did not experience anticipated potential adverse effects of radiation therapy or that the adverse effects were the same as or better than expected across all evaluated measures.

"Oncology professional societies and patient advocacy groups have an opportunity to leverage this information and the expertise of experienced professionals to develop and disseminate resources to augment physician-patient communication and consent processes," the authors write.

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