Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Advanced cancer patients overoptimistic about chemotherapy's ability to cure, study finds

Date:
October 24, 2012
Source:
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Summary:
Researchers report that findings from a nationwide study suggest that advanced lung or colorectal cancer patients are frequently mistaken in their beliefs that chemotherapy can cure their disease. Their expectations run counter to the fact that although chemotherapy can alleviate pain and extend life in such patients by weeks or months, it is not curative except in the rarest of circumstances.

Findings from a nationwide study led by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute suggest that patients with advanced lung or colorectal cancer are frequently mistaken in their beliefs that chemotherapy can cure their disease.

The study, published in the Oct. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that 69 percent of patients with advanced lung cancer and 81 percent of patients with advanced colorectal cancer did not understand that the chemotherapy they were receiving was not at all likely to cure their disease. Their expectations run counter to the fact that although chemotherapy can alleviate pain and extend life in such patients by weeks or months, it is not a cure for these types of advanced cancer except in the rarest of circumstances.

The findings come from the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Consortium (CanCORS), a large nationwide study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute to understand many facets of cancer care in the United States. The study's lead author is Jane Weeks, MD, MSc, who is the CanCORS Consortium's scientific chair and is director of the McGraw/Patterson Center for Population Sciences at Dana-Farber, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health.

The study was conducted by surveying 1,274 patients at hospitals, clinics and treatment centers across the country and by undertaking comprehensive review of their records. Study participants had been diagnosed with metastatic lung or colorectal cancer at least four months earlier and had received chemotherapy for their disease.

While previous studies had polled cancer patients about their perceptions of chemotherapy, this was the first to involve such a large and varied cross-section of the population. The study revealed that inaccurate expectations about the role of chemotherapy were found among patients from varied backgrounds treated in many different health care settings across the U.S.

Weeks noted that "If patients do not know whether a treatment offers a realistic possibility of cure, their ability to make informed treatment decisions that are consistent with their preferences may be compromised. This misunderstanding may pose obstacles to optimal end-of-life planning."

Surprisingly, patients who rated their communication with their physician highly were the most likely to hold overoptimistic views about chemotherapy's curative potential. While there is no doubt that communication about prognosis in advanced cancer is challenging, a sizeable minority of study participants did grasp the incurable nature of their cancers. Study co-author Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH, said that "skilled clinicians can set realistic expectations without their patients' losing either hope or trust." However, further research will be necessary to identify strategies to help physicians more consistently set realistic expectations and thereby help patients make good decisions about their care.

Other study co-authors include Paul Catalano, ScD, Angel Cronin, and Jennifer Mack, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber; Matthew Finkelman, PhD, of Tufts University; and Nancy Keating, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women's Hospital.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jane C. Weeks, Paul J. Catalano, Angel Cronin, Matthew D. Finkelman, Jennifer W. Mack, Nancy L. Keating, Deborah Schrag. Patients' Expectations about Effects of Chemotherapy for Advanced Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 2012; 367 (17): 1616 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1204410

Cite This Page:

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Advanced cancer patients overoptimistic about chemotherapy's ability to cure, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024175345.htm>.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (2012, October 24). Advanced cancer patients overoptimistic about chemotherapy's ability to cure, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024175345.htm
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Advanced cancer patients overoptimistic about chemotherapy's ability to cure, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024175345.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins