Quality of life assessment in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer patients undergoing an accelerated radiotherapy regimen: report of ECOG study 4593. Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group

R M Auchter, D Scholtens, S Adak, H Wagner, D F Cella, M P Mehta
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2001 August 1, 50 (5): 1199-206

PURPOSE: To prospectively evaluate the quality of life (QOL) before, at completion, and after therapy for patients receiving an accelerated fractionation schedule of radiotherapy for advanced, unresectable non-small-cell lung cancer in a Phase II multi-institutional trial.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung (FACT-L) patient questionnaire was used to score the QOL in patients enrolled in the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Phase II trial (ECOG 4593) of hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy in non-small-cell lung cancer. Radiotherapy (total dose 57.6 Gy in 36 fractions) was delivered during 15 days, with three radiation fractions given each treatment day. The protocol was activated in 1993, and 30 patients had accrued by November 1995. The FACT-L questionnaire was administered at study entry (baseline), on the last day of radiotherapy (assessment 2), and 4 weeks after therapy (assessment 3). The FACT-L includes scores for physical, functional, emotional, and social well-being (33 items), and a subscale of lung cancer symptoms (10 additional items). The summation of the physical, functional, and lung cancer symptom subscales (21 items) constitutes the Trial Outcome Index (TOI), considered the most clinically relevant outcome measure in lung cancer treatment trials.

RESULTS: The FACT-L completion rates at the designated study time points were as follows: baseline, 30 of 30 (100%); assessment 2, 29 (97%) of 30; and assessment 3, 24 (80%) of 30. At treatment completion, statistically significant declines in QOL scores were noted, compared with baseline for physical and functional well-being. Emotional well-being scores improved at both assessment 2 and assessment 3. The physical and functional scores returned approximately to baseline values at assessment 3. The change in TOI score was evaluated as a function of the clinical response to treatment, toxicity grade, and survival; no clear association was noted. A trend for the largest decrease in QOL was noted for patient groups with shorter survival times. The mean change in the TOI score from baseline to assessment 3 was -8.96 for patients surviving < 52 weeks vs. -0.95 for those surviving > 52 weeks.

CONCLUSIONS: The FACT-L questionnaire can be successfully administered to non-small-cell lung cancer patients enrolled in a prospective Phase II trial of accelerated radiation fractionation. The decrement in physical and functional QOL during treatment returned to baseline level at 4 weeks after treatment. Emotional well-being improved at all time points. A trend was noted for shorter survival times in patients with the largest negative change in TOI score. These data suggest that the clinical use of hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy did not cause a significant, long-term decrease in the QOL of the treated patients, and that it is feasible to perform a QOL study of patients enrolled in such a trial.

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