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Jimmie C. Holland, Mark Lazenby and Matthew J. Loscalzo

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Michele Dabrowski, Kenneth Boucher, John H. Ward, Margaret M. Lovell, Angela Sandre, Janet Bloch, Lynne Carlquist, Monica Porter, Larry Norman and Saundra S. Buys

A study was conducted to describe our group's experience using the NCCN Distress Thermometer in an outpatient breast cancer clinic. The NCCN Distress Thermometer was administered to patients attending the breast cancer clinic at Huntsman Cancer Institute during a 4-month period. Effects of disease, treatment, and demographic variables on distress level were analyzed. Patients reporting high distress were contacted by a social worker to determine the cause of the distress. Two hundred and eighty-six (286) subjects completed 403 questionnaires, with 96 patients (34%) reporting high levels of distress (5 or greater on a 10-point scale). No relationship was seen between high distress and stage of disease, type of current treatment, time since diagnosis, age, or other demographic factors. Underlying mental health disorders were associated with a higher level of distress. The Distress Thermometer was a useful method to screen, triage, and prioritize patient interventions. In our experience, the tool promoted communication between the patient and the health care team, which enhanced treating psychosocial and physical symptoms. Methods to optimize the use of this screen are proposed.

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Ishveen Chopra, Nilanjana Dwibedi, Malcolm D. Mattes, Xi Tan, Patricia Findley and Usha Sambamoorthi

Background: Incident cancer diagnosis may increase the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD)–related hospitalizations, especially in older individuals. Adherence to statins and/or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs)/angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)/β-blockers reduces CAD-related hospitalizations. This study examined the relationship between medication adherence and CAD-related hospitalizations immediately following cancer diagnosis. Patients and Methods: A retrospective observational longitudinal study was conducted using SEER-Medicare data. Elderly Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with preexisting CAD and incident breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer (N=12,096) were observed for 12 months before and after cancer diagnosis. Hospitalizations measured every 120 days were categorized into CAD-related hospitalization, other hospitalization, and no hospitalization. Medication adherence was categorized into 5 mutually exclusive groups: adherent to both statins and ACEIs/ARBs/β-blockers (reference group), not adherent to both statins and ACEIs/ARBs/β-blockers, adherent to either statins or ACEIs/ARBs/β-blockers, use of one medication class and adherent to that class, and use of one medication class and not adherent to that class. The relationship between medication adherence and hospitalization was analyzed using repeated measures multinomial logistic regressions. Inverse probability treatment weights were used to control for observed group differences among medication adherence categories. Results: Adherence to both statins and ACEIs/ARBs/β-blockers was estimated at 31.2% during the 120-day period immediately following cancer diagnosis; 13.7% were not adherent to both medication classes during the same period, and 27.4% had CAD-related hospitalizations immediately after cancer diagnosis, which declined to 10.6% during the last 4 months of the postdiagnosis period. In the adjusted analyses, those not adherent to both statins and ACEIs/ARBs/β-blockers were more likely to have CAD-related hospitalization compared with those adherent to both medication classes (adjusted odds ratio, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.72–1.92; P<.0001). Conclusions: Given the complexity of interaction between CAD and cancer, it is important to routinely monitor medication adherence in general clinical practice and to provide linkages to support services that can increase medication adherence.

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Ishveen Chopra, Malcolm D. Mattes, Patricia Findley, Xi Tan, Nilanjana Dwibedi and Usha Sambamoorthi

Background: Healthcare spending for coronary artery disease (CAD)–related services is higher than for other chronic conditions. Diagnosis of incident cancer may impede management of CAD, thereby increasing the risk of CAD-related complications and associated healthcare expenditures. This study examined the relationship between incident cancer and CAD-related expenditures among elderly Medicare beneficiaries. Patients and Methods: A retrospective longitudinal study was conducted using the SEER-Medicare linked registries and a 5% noncancer random sample of Medicare beneficiaries. Elderly fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with preexisting CAD and with incident breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer (N=12,095) or no cancer (N=34,237) were included. CAD-related healthcare expenditures comprised Medicare payments for inpatient, home healthcare, and outpatient services. Expenditures were measured every 120 days during the 1-year preindex and 1-year postindex periods. Adjusted relationship between incident cancer and expenditures was analyzed using the generalized linear mixed models. Results: Overall, CAD-related mean healthcare expenditures in the preindex period accounted for approximately 32.6% to 39.5% of total expenditures among women and 41.5% to 46.8% among men. All incident cancer groups had significantly higher CAD-related expenditures compared with noncancer groups (P<.0001). Men and women with colorectal cancer (CRC) had 166% and 153% higher expenditures, respectively, compared with their noncancer counterparts. Furthermore, men and women with CRC had 57% and 55% higher expenditures compared with those with prostate or breast cancer, respectively. Conclusions: CAD-related expenditures were higher for elderly Medicare beneficiaries with incident cancer, specifically for those with CRC. This warrants the need for effective programs and policies to reduce CAD-related expenditures. Close monitoring of patients with a cancer diagnosis and preexisting CAD may prevent CAD-related events and expenditures.

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Gabrielle Gauvin, Leigh Selesner, Marcin Chwistek, Molly Collins, Crystal Denlinger, Mark Itzen, LCSW, Kenneth Patrick and Jeffrey Farma

Background: Malignant bowel obstruction (MBO) is a frequent presentation of advanced abdominal malignancy. Despite the frequency of MBO and the availability of NCCN Guidelines for its management, clinicians struggle to create a personalized care plan accounting for a patient’s current condition, prognosis, and goals of care. The aim of this project is to develop a discussion tool to implement on admission to ensure realistic prognostication and appropriate involvement of the patient, caregivers, and multidisciplinary team in treatment decisions. Methods: At our tertiary care center, a multidisciplinary team composed of surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, palliative care specialists, hospitalists, social workers, and nutritionists developed an algorithm to implement when a patient is admitted with MBO. The algorithm was influenced by the NCCN Guidelines for palliative care but was designed as a single-page checklist that could be easily executed by all team members. Results: The MBO admission checklist is divided into 4 sections. The general assessment section includes information about the etiology, severity, and reversibility of the current and past MBO. Also, the patient’s resuscitation and functional status are reviewed. The cancer care coordination/communication section covers the patient’s oncological history and estimated lifespan, as well as the need for further coordination of care and a goals of care discussion. The subsequent portion covers the management plan, with specific decisions resulting from a goals of care discussion as well as the need for specialized consults. The medical, procedural, and operative interventions the team and patient discussed as options are also documented. A key portion is the risks and benefits discussion for each treatment modality. Lastly, the discussion about future considerations section explores the patient’s wishes for the next episode of MBO. Conclusions: The goal of this checklist is to ensure that a comprehensive discussion is held between the different services involved in a patient’s care at every admission for MBO in order to provide a personalized management plan and improve communication. The next step in our study is to assess the effectiveness of implementation of the checklist as well as its impact on patient satisfaction, quality of life, early hospice referral, and outcomes.

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Shauna McManus, Alexandra K. Zaleta, Melissa F. Miller, Joanne S. Buzaglo, Julie S. Olson, Sara Goldberger and Kevin Stein

Background: CancerSupportSource (CSS) is a 25-item distress screening tool implemented at community-based cancer support organizations and hospitals nationwide. CSS assesses distress over 5 domains: (1) emotional concerns (including depression and anxiety risk screening subscales), (2) symptom burden, (3) body and healthy lifestyle, (4) healthcare team communication, and (5) relationships. This study developed a short form of CSS and examined its psychometric properties. Methods: 2,379 cancer survivors enrolled in the Cancer Support Community’s Cancer Experience Registry. Participants provided demographic and clinical background and completed CSS-25 and PROMIS-29, a measure of health-related quality of life. Item reduction was conducted with a subsample of 1,435 survivors and included external item quality (correlations between items and PROMIS-29 scales), internal item quality (inter-item and inter-factor correlations, factor loadings and structure, and item communalities from an exploratory factor analysis of CSS-25), and professional judgement (ranking/prioritization of items by CSS-25 developers, accounting for theoretical and practical implications). Pearson correlations and confirmatory factor analysis were conducted on a separate subsample of 944 survivors to corroborate psychometric properties and dimensionality of the shortened scale. Results: Scale refinement resulted in a 15-item short form of CSS (CSS-15). At least 1 item from each of the 5 CSS-25 domains was retained to preserve multidimensionality, including anxiety and depression risk screening subscale items. Additionally, 1 item about tobacco/substance use was kept due to clinical significance for risk assessment. In confirmatory factor analysis, the model explained 59% of the variance and demonstrated good fit (RMSEA=0.068, 90% CI=0.061–0.075; SRMR=0.033; CFI=0.959; χ 2(68)=334.75, P<.001). Correlation between CSS-15 and CSS-25 was 0.986, P<.001. Total distress was associated with PROMIS subscales (rs=−.65–.75, ps<.001); internal consistency reliability was excellent (α=.92). Conclusions: CSS-15 is a brief, reliable, and valid multidimensional measure of distress. The reduced measure retained excellent internal consistency and a stable factor structure, while correlating well with CSS-25 and PROMIS-29. CSS-15 can serve as a practical tool to efficiently screen for distress among cancer patients and survivors.

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Alexandra K. Zaleta, Shauna McManus, Joanne S. Buzaglo, Eva Y. N. Yuen, Julie S. Olson, Melissa F. Miller, Karen Hurley, Lillie D. Shockney, Sara Goldberger, Mitch Golant and Kevin Stein

Background: Despite growing recognition that patient preferences and values should inform cancer care, patients’ views continue to be under-represented. We developed a quantitative tool, Valued Outcomes in the Cancer Experience (VOICE), to measure patient priorities and to understand discrepancies between what matters most to patients and what patients believe they can control. This study presents VOICE development and initial validation. Methods: 459 cancer patients completed an online survey and rated level of importance and perceived control for 54 value items (0=not at all; 4=very much). Items were derived from patient and caregiver focus groups and included themes such as independence, functional abilities, planning for the future, symptom management, health knowledge, and social support. Participants also completed validated measures of hope, optimism, quality of life, financial toxicity, spiritual well-being, illness perceptions, social support, self-efficacy, intolerance of uncertainty, and cancer-related distress. Iterative exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with direct oblique rotation, magnitude of importance and control ratings, and Pearson correlations between items and validation measures were used to inform scale refinement. Results: Participants were 86% non-Hispanic white; mean age=60 years, SD=10; 38% breast cancer, 18% blood, 9% lung, 9% prostate; mean time since diagnosis=6.5 years, SD=6; 22% metastatic. Items that did not load in the EFA, or were not associated with conceptually relevant validation measures, were removed or reworded. The final EFA explained over half of the variance in the data and demonstrated good fit, with absolute and relative fit indices in established acceptable ranges (P<.001). The refined VOICE measure addresses diverse themes including access to care, maintaining independence, longevity, shared decision making, illness understanding, symptom management, emotional support, connection to illness community, spirituality, and end of life preparation. Conclusions: The study results demonstrate a framework for developing a quantitative, multidimensional measure of patient values. By understanding what matters most to patients, VOICE is positioned to bring patient preferences to the foreground of cancer care, contribute to shared decision making, and enhance care. Next steps include further validation of this tool in diverse settings, including oncology practices and community-based organizations.

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Ashley E. Glode, S. Lindsey Davis, Supriya K. Jain, Megan D. Marsh, Lisa J. Wingrove, Tracey E. Schefter, Karyn Goodman, Lindel C.K. Dewberry, Martin D. McCarter, Laura Melton, Michelle Bunch, William T. Purcell and Stephen Leong

Background: At our institution, the standard treatment recommendation for esophageal cancer patients with stage IB–IIIB disease is for neoadjuvant chemoradiation per the CROSS regimen prior to surgery. This regimen can be difficult for patients to tolerate, and they may be unable to receive full dose therapy without treatment dose reductions and delays. Methods: We conducted a quality improvement (QI) project, STRENGTH (Seeking to Reactivate Esophageal and Gastric Treatment Health), to implement supportive care interventions in the prehabilitation phase of neoadjuvant treatment. Our QI program included a standardized chemotherapy order template with supportive care interventions implemented at specific time points. Following implementation of the STRENGTH pathway, a retrospective QI analysis assessed an equal number of patients in the pre-STRENGTH and STRENGTH group for chemotherapy and radiation therapy dose intensities, as well as treatment outcomes. Results: During the pre-STRENGTH period, patients received an average of 5 chemotherapy treatments (range, 2–6), with an average relative dose intensity of 91.8% for carboplatin and 86.7% for paclitaxel. During the STRENGTH period, patients received an average of 6 (range, 5–8) chemotherapy treatments, with an average relative dose intensity of 111.4% for carboplatin and 112.9% for paclitaxel. In the pre-STRENGTH group, one patient did not complete their planned radiation dose due to nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. All patients in the STRENGTH group received their planned radiation dose. In the STRENGTH group, there is a trend of improved pathologic response, longer progression-free survival, and shortened time to surgery. Conclusion: Implementation of the STRENGTH pathway improved chemotherapy dose intensity, with potentially improved oncologic outcomes in the STRENGTH group. We plan to further optimize the STRENGTH program with implementation of standardized dose reduction and delay protocols for both chemotherapy and radiation, and assess the effects of STRENGTH interventions on patient quality of life.

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Peter F. Coccia, Jessica Altman, Smita Bhatia, Scott C. Borinstein, Joseph Flynn, Suzanne George, Robert Goldsby, Robert Hayashi, Mary S. Huang, Rebecca H. Johnson, Lynda Kwon Beaupin, Michael P. Link, Kevin C. Oeffinger, Kathleen M. Orr, Alberto S. Pappo, Damon Reed, Holly L. Spraker, Deborah A. Thomas, Margaret von Mehren, Daniel S. Wechsler, Kimberly F. Whelan, Bradley J. Zebrack, Hema Sundar and Dorothy A. Shead

Cancer is the leading cause of death among the adolescent and young adult (AYA) population, excluding homicide, suicide, or unintentional injury. AYA patients should be managed by a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals who are well-versed in the specific developmental issues relevant to this patient population. The recommendations for age-appropriate care outlined in these NCCN Guidelines include psychosocial assessment, a discussion of infertility risks associated with treatment and options for fertility preservation, genetic and familial risk assessment for all patients after diagnosis, screening and monitoring of late effects in AYA cancer survivors after successful completion of therapy, and palliative care and end-of-life considerations for patients for whom curative therapy fails.

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Peter F. Coccia, Alberto S. Pappo, Jessica Altman, Smita Bhatia, Scott C. Borinstein, Joseph Flynn, A. Lindsay Frazier, Suzanne George, Robert Goldsby, Robert Hayashi, Mary S. Huang, Rebecca H. Johnson, Lynda Kwon Beaupin, Michael P. Link, Kevin C. Oeffinger, Kathleen M. Orr, Damon Reed, Holly L. Spraker, Deborah A. Thomas, Margaret von Mehren, Daniel S. Wechsler, Kimberly F. Whelan, Brad Zebrack, Dorothy A. Shead and Hema Sundar

The NCCN Guidelines Insights on Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology discuss the fertility and endocrine issues that are relevant to the management of AYA patients with cancer. Fertility preservation should be an essential part in the treatment of AYA patients with cancer. The NCCN Guidelines recommend discussion of fertility preservation and contraception before the start of treatment. Oophoropexy and embryo cryopreservation are the 2 established options for fertility preservation in women. Semen cryopreservation before the start of treatment is the most reliable and well-established method of preserving fertility in men. AYA women with cancer also have unique contraception needs, depending on the type of cancer, its treatment, and treatment-related complications. Management of cancer during pregnancy poses significant diagnostic and therapeutic challenges for both the patient and the physician. AYA women diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy require individualized treatment from a multidisciplinary team involving medical, surgical, radiation, and gynecologic oncologists; obstetricians; and perinatologists.