Late effects in survivors of central nervous system tumors: reports by patients and proxies

Kelly Sloane, Carolyn Vachani, Margaret K Hampshire, James M Metz, Christine E Hill-Kayser
Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice 2016, 10 (2): 234-40

PURPOSE: With the 5-year survival of patients with brain tumors increasing as treatment modalities are optimized, there are a large number of brain cancer survivors who experience long-term sequelae of their treatment. Patient-reported outcomes represent an important and often unrecorded aspect of survivorship.

METHODS: An Internet-based survivorship care plan tool which allowed patients or their proxies to answer a series of questions about the patient's illness course was used to collect patient-reported toxicity data for 254 individuals who had undergone treatment for brain cancer. Demographic, treatment, and side effect profiles data were reviewed.

RESULTS: Median age of diagnosis was 42 years, and 88% (n = 223) of the patients were Caucasian. Only 11.1% (n = 29) had previously been offered a survivorship care plan. Of the total group of brain tumor survivors, 25.4% of responders described themselves as living with metastatic disease, while 14.5% of responders were experiencing recurrence status post treatment. Late effects most commonly reported for all brain malignancy survivors using this tool were cognitive changes, fatigue, skin changes, hearing loss, weakness, and numbness. The incidence of late effects varied with age at time of treatment and length of time since treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Individuals undergoing treatment for brain cancers experience a diverse array of long-term sequelae, and the majority of these patients do not have access to or familiarity with a survivorship care plan.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Patient-focused tools to evaluate these side effects and access to survivorship plans are important for comprehensive reporting of late effects as well as implementation of survivorship care plans for long-term management of these effects. Understanding the late effects that patients experience will help providers council patients regarding expectations prior to treatment, as well as management of symptoms in the survivorship phase of care.

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