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  • Author: Jennifer L. Beaumont x
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John M. Salsman, Betina Yanez, Kristin N. Smith, Jennifer L. Beaumont, Mallory A. Snyder, Khouri Barnes and Marla L. Clayman

Background: Professional guidelines have been developed to promote discussion between providers and newly diagnosed young adults with cancer about the possibility of cancer treatment–related infertility, but previous research suggests many young adults fail to receive this information. The aim of this study was to examine rates of and factors predictive of oncologists' compliance with national guidelines for discussing potential treatment-related infertility with newly diagnosed young adults with cancer seen at an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. Methods: We reviewed data from the electronic medical record for new clinic encounters between medical oncologists and young adults with cancer (ages 18–39 years) from 2010 to 2012. Data from oncologist discussions of fertility preservation were abstracted, as were patient (age, sex, race, ethnicity, cancer type) and oncologist (gender, graduation year from fellowship) characteristics. Results: A total of 1,018 cases were reviewed, with 454 patients (mean, 31.5 years; 67.8% women) meeting inclusion criteria. Overall, 83% of patients were informed about potential treatment-related infertility, with patients with breast cancer (85% informed), Hodgkin lymphoma (95% informed), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (94% informed), leukemia (88% informed), or testicular cancer (100% informed) more likely to be informed than those with other cancer types (60%–74% informed). There was a significant effect for patient sex (odds ratio, 3.57; CI, 1.33, 9.60; P=.012), with women being more likely to be informed than men. Conclusions: Reported compliance with fertility preservation guidelines was greater than published rates. Higher compliance rates in female patients and in patients with cancers more common among young adults may reflect greater awareness of fertility-related concerns among these patients and their providers.

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John M. Salsman, Steven M. Grunberg, Jennifer L. Beaumont, Miriam Rogers, Diane Paul, Marla L. Clayman and David Cella

Despite recent progress, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), especially delayed CINV, continues to be a problem. Delayed CINV is underestimated and perceived differently by providers and patients. Communication between providers and patients about this side effect may help improve outcomes. This study identifies patients’ and providers’ perceptions of management and barriers to quality CINV care. Provider and patient versions of a Nausea and Vomiting Management Barriers Questionnaire were developed to address potential barriers. Providers and patients were given opportunities to add detail in open-ended questions. Providers were recruited through the NCCN and the Oncology Nursing Society mailing lists. Patients who received at least 2 cycles of chemotherapy and experienced CINV were recruited through a consortium of advocacy groups. Both providers (n = 141) and patients (n = 299) completed the survey. Providers (41%) and patients (42%) agreed medication side effects were a concern, but more patients (63%) than providers (36%) tried to limit the number of medications taken (P < .0001). Many providers (67%) spontaneously reported barriers to managing CINV, with financial and patient-related factors among the most common. Few patients (10%) reported cost as a barrier, but 37% endorsed the desire “to be strong by not complaining.” Barriers to communication and quality care of CINV differ between caregivers and patients. Addressing misconceptions and establishing mutually consistent goals will lead to more effective overall care.

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Zeeshan Butt, Sarah K. Rosenbloom, Amy P. Abernethy, Jennifer L. Beaumont, Diane Paul, Debra Hampton, Paul B. Jacobsen, Karen L. Syrjala, Jamie H. Von Roenn and David Cella

Cancer fatigue has been defined and described as an important problem. However, few studies have assessed the relative importance of fatigue compared with other patient symptoms and concerns. To explore this issue, the authors surveyed 534 patients and 91 physician experts from 5 NCCN member institutions and community support agencies. Specifically, they asked patients with advanced bladder, brain, breast, colorectal, head and neck, hepatobiliary/pancreatic, kidney, lung, ovarian, or prostate cancer or lymphoma about their “most important symptoms or concerns to monitor.” Across the entire sample, and individually for patients with 9 cancer types, fatigue emerged as the top-ranked symptom. Fatigue was also ranked most important among patients with 10 of 11 cancer types when asked to rank lists of common concerns. Patient fatigue ratings were most strongly associated with malaise (r = 0.50) and difficulties with activities of daily living, pain, and quality of life. Expert ratings of how much fatigue is attributable to disease versus treatment mostly suggested that both play an important role, with disease-related factors predominant in hepatobiliary and lung cancer, and treatment-related factors playing a stronger role in head and neck cancer.

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David Cella, Sarah K. Rosenbloom, Jennifer L. Beaumont, Susan E. Yount, Diane Paul, Debra Hampton, Amy P. Abernethy, Paul B. Jacobsen, Karen Syrjala and Jamie H. Von Roenn

Recent guidance from the FDA discusses patient-reported outcomes as end points in clinical trials. Using methods consistent with this guidance, the authors developed symptom indexes for patients with advanced cancer. Input on the most important symptoms was obtained from 533 patients recruited from NCCN Member Institutions and 4 nonprofit social service organizations. Diagnoses included bladder, brain, breast, colorectal, head and neck, hepatobiliary/pancreatic, kidney, lung, ovarian, and prostate cancers and lymphoma. Physician experts in each of these diseases were also surveyed to differentiate symptoms that were predominantly disease-based from those that were predominantly treatment-induced. Results are evaluated alongside previously published indexes for 9 of these 11 advanced cancers that were created based on expert provider surveys, also implemented at NCCN Member Institutions. Final results are 11 symptom indexes that reflect the highest priorities of people affected by these 11 advanced cancers and the experienced perspective of the people who provide their medical treatment. Beyond the clinical value of such indexes, they may also contribute significantly to satisfying regulatory requirements for a standardized tool to evaluate drug efficacy with respect to symptomatology.