A multidisciplinary nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) clinic is held weekly at our center, where all new patients are jointly assessed by dermatology/dermatopathology, radiation oncology, and plastic surgery. A new patient database was established in 2004. The purpose of this study was to provide a preliminary report on the patients seen in the NMSC clinic and the treatment recommendations rendered.
The new patient database was reviewed from January 2004 to December 2008, and patient demographics, tumor characteristics, and treatment recommendations were extracted. Cochran-Mantel-Harnszel (CMH) testing and chi-square analysis were used to detect any associations or relationships between variables within the database. A p value of less than .05 was considered significant.
During the 5-year study period, 2,146 new patients were seen in the NMSC clinic. The majority of patients presented with basal cell carcinoma (64%) or squamous cell carcinoma (22%), with a median tumor size of 1 to 2 cm (range 0 to > 9 cm). Tumors were located in the head and neck region (80%), extremities (14%), and torso (6%). Previous treatment included biopsy only (62%), surgery (20%), electrodesiccation and curettage (11%), topical imiquimod (3%), and radiotherapy (1%). Treatment recommendations included surgery (55%) (with either simple excision [31%] or excision with margin control under frozen-section guidance [24%]), radiotherapy (19%), topical imiquimod (10%), observation (7%), and electrodesiccation and curettage (4%).
The NMSC clinic at our center sees a high volume of patients who benefit from the multidisciplinary assessment provided. Treatment recommendations were based on patient and disease characteristics as well as patient preference.
Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) is used to treat benign and malignant brain tumors, arteriovenous malformations, trigeminal neuralgia, and other conditions. Patients experience reduced neurological morbidity from GKS compared with open microneurosurgery, but risks of radiation injury and technical limitations persist. The authors report treatment complications from the early experience of 2 Canadian GKS programs in Toronto and Sherbrooke.
In Toronto, a prospective administrative database was searched for adverse events and incomplete treatment administrations. In Sherbrooke, data were acquired by chart review. Patients were accrued until August 1, 2007, and a total of 973 patients were included in this report.
During the radiosurgical procedure, 19 patients (2%) suffered anxiety or syncopal episodes, and 2 patients suffered acute coronary events. Treatments were incompletely administered in 12 patients (1.2%). Severe pain was a delayed complication: 8 patients suffered unexpected headaches, and 9 patients developed severe facial pain. New motor deficits developed in 11 patients, including edema-induced ataxia in 4 and one case of facial weakness after treatment of a vestibular schwannoma. Four patients required shunt placement for symptomatic hydrocephalus, and 16 patients suffered delayed seizures.
Gamma Knife surgery is a minimally invasive treatment modality for many intracranial diseases. Treatment is not risk free, and some patients will develop complications; these are likely to decrease as institutional experience matures. Expanding availability and indications necessitate discussion of these risks with patients considering treatment.
To determine the incidence of pain flare following radiotherapy (RT) for painful bone metastases.
Patients with bone metastases treated with RT were eligible. Worst pain scores and analgesic consumption were collected before, daily during, and for 10 days after treatment. Pain flare was defined as a 2-point increase in the worst pain score (0-10) compared to baseline with no decrease in analgesic intake, or a 25% increase in analgesic intake with no decrease in worst pain score. Pain flare was distinguished from progression of pain by requiring the worst pain score and analgesic intake return to baseline levels after the increase/flare (within the 10-day follow-up period).
A total of 111 patients from three cancer centers were evaluable. There were 50 male and 61 female patients with a median age of 62 years (range, 40-89 years). The primary cancers were mainly breast, lung, and prostate. Most patients received a single 8 Gy (64%) or 20 Gy in five fractions (25%). The overall pain flare incidence was 44/111 (40%) during RT and within 10 days following the completion of RT. Patients treated with a single 8 Gy reported a pain flare incidence of 39% (27/70) and, with multiple fractions, 41% (17/41).
More than one third of the enrolled patients experienced a pain flare. Identifying at-risk individuals and managing potential pain flares is crucial to achieve an optimal level of care.
Comment In: Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2010 Oct 1;78(2):637; author reply 63720832666
The purpose of this study is to compare self-reported quality of life (QOL) scores in old and young patients with metastatic cancer using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C15-PAL questionnaire.
Patients receiving palliative radiotherapy (RT) for bone metastases and brain metastases completed the QLQ-C15-PAL questionnaire prior to treatment. Using multiple linear regression analysis, a parametric test, the QLQ-C15-PAL scores were compared using 65 and 70 years as cutoff ages.
A total of 340 patients were referred for palliative RT for bone metastases (n = 190) or brain metastases (n = 150). Physical functioning and appetite were worse in the older group using either 65 or 70 years as the cutoff age. Age-related differences in the QLQ-C15-PAL scores varied as a function of age cutoff used and location of metastatic site irradiated.
Based on the (EORTC) QLQ-C15-PAL, elderly advanced cancer patients have a different QOL profile. Similar observations have been reported with the (EORTC) QLQ-C30 questionnaire.
Few studies incorporate patient self-assessment scales in prognostic models of survival prediction. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) is commonly used as a symptom screening tool in cancer patients.
The goal of this study was to evaluate the prognostic value of the ESAS for survival prediction in the advanced cancer population.
Patients completed the ESAS and demographic information prior to palliative radiotherapy consultation and at follow-up at the Odette Cancer Centre between 1999 and 2009. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) methodology was applied to analyze ESAS trends within the last months of life. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measurements was used to characterize trends between time periods.
ESAS records (2377) from 808 patients (433 male and 375 female) were included in this cohort. Median age was 68 years (range 32-95) with median Karnofsky performance status (KPS) of 60 (range 10-100). Primary cancer sites were of the lung (36%), breast (20%), and prostate (19%). All nine ESAS symptoms significantly deteriorated in the last 4 weeks immediately before death when compared with those scores in the preceding months. At one week prior to death, the worst ESAS symptoms experienced by patients were fatigue, appetite, and well-being with mean scores of 7.4, 6.9, and 6.1, respectively.
All ESAS scores significantly worsened in the last 4 weeks prior to death compared with those in the previous months. Sudden deterioration of the global ESAS symptoms may predict impending death. Future studies on a prognostic model should incorporate both ESAS symptom severity and trends.
The primary objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of underdosage of analgesics for pain associated with bone metastases in outpatients referred to the Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program at the Odette Cancer Centre from 1999 to 2006. A prospective database containing data for all patients with bone metastases who were referred to the Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program for palliative radiotherapy from 1999 to 2006 was analyzed. The database included patient demographic information, including age at referral for radiation to the bone, gender, primary cancer site, and Karnofsky Performance Status; information on treatment-related factors, such as worst pain ratings and analgesic consumption in the past 24 hours (recorded as oral morphine equivalent doses); pain intensity ratings (none [rating=0], mild [rating=1-4], moderate [rating=5-6] or severe [rating=7-10]; and analgesic consumption (rated as none, nonopioids, weak opioids [e.g., codeine] and strong opioids [e.g., morphine and hydromorphone]). Patients who experienced moderate or severe pain and were prescribed no pain medication, nonopioids, or weak opioids were considered to be undermedicated. Between January 1999 and December 2006, 1,038 patients were included in the study database. Approximately 56% of patients were male and 44% were female. The median age was 68 years (range 28-95) and the median Karnofsky Performance Status was 70 (range 10-100). The percentages of undermedicated patients were 40% in 1999, 34% in 2000, 29% in 2001, 37% in 2003, 39% in 2004, 36% in 2005, and 48% in 2006. No appreciable decline was noted in the proportion of patients with moderate-to-severe pain who received no pain medication, nonopioids, or weak opioids during the study period. Despite the publication of pain management guidelines and the dissemination of data regarding the proportion of patients with bone metastases who are being prescribed inadequate analgesics, our findings suggest that a significant proportion of patients continue to be undermedicated.
The primary objective of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between the severity of pretreatment pain and response to palliative radiotherapy (RT) for painful bone metastases.
The database for patients with bone metastases seen at the Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program at the Odette Cancer Center from 1999 to 2006 was analyzed. The proportion of patients with mild (scores 1-4), moderate (scores 5-6), or severe (scores 7-10) pain at baseline who experienced a complete response, partial response, stable response, or progressive response after palliative RT was determined according to International Bone Metastases Consensus definitions.
During the 7-year study period 1,053 patients received palliative radiation for bone metastases. The median age was 68 years and the median Karnofsky performance status was 70. Of the patients, 53% had a complete or partial response at 1 month, 52% at 2 months, and 54% at 3 months post-RT.
There was no significant difference in terms of the proportion of responders (patients with complete or partial response) and nonresponders in terms of painful bone metastases among patients presenting with mild, moderate, or severe pain. Patients with moderate pain should be referred for palliative RT.
Longitudinal symptom monitoring is important in the setting of patients with advanced cancer. Scores over time may naturally fluctuate, although a patient may feel the same.
The purpose of this study was to determine the minimal levels of change required to be clinically relevant (minimal clinically important difference [MCID]) using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS).
Between 1999 and 2009, patients completed the ESAS before palliative radiotherapy and at follow-up. MCIDs were calculated using both the anchor- and distribution-based methods for improvement and deterioration; 95% confidence intervals for the differences in mean change scores between adjacent categories also were calculated.
A total of 276 patients completed the ESAS at baseline and during at least one follow-up visit. At the four-week follow-up, decrease of 1.2 and 1.1 units in pain and depression scales, respectively, constituted clinically relevant improvement, whereas increase of at least 1.4, 1.8, 1.1, 1.1, and 1.4 units, respectively, in pain, tiredness, depression, anxiety, and appetite loss items were required for deterioration. At the subsequent follow-ups, these values were similar. Overall, the MCID for improvement tended to be smaller than that for deterioration. The distribution-based method estimates tended to be larger than the 0.3 SD estimates, but closer to the 0.5 SD estimates.
MCIDs allow health care professionals to determine the success of treatment in improving the patient's quality of life. MCIDs may prompt health care professionals to intervene with new treatment. Future studies should confirm our findings with a variety of anchors.
The Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) was developed by the Victoria Hospice Society in 1996 to modernize the Karnofsky Performance Scale. Currently, it is being used to measure palliative patient performance status in a variety of settings. Despite its widespread use, only one study has examined the inter-rater reliability of the PPS.
To examine the inter-rater reliability of the PPS in measuring performance status in patients seen in an outpatient palliative radiation oncology clinic
Performance status for 102 consecutive patients was assessed by an oncologist (MD), a radiation therapist (RT), and a research assistant (RA) in the Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program at the Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Raters' scores were analyzed for correlation and compared to evaluate the inter-rater reliability of the PPS tool.
Excellent correlation was found between the scores rated by the MD and RA (r = 0.86); good correlation was observed between scores rated by the MD and RT (r = 0.69) and the RT and RA (r = 0.77). Scores between all three raters, as well as between rater pairs, were also found to have good reliability as measured by the Chronbach's alpha coefficient. Significant results were obtained for the range of PPS scores in which the majority of our patients fell: 40-80%.
PPS was shown to have good overall inter-rater reliability in an outpatient palliative setting, but more research is needed to establish the validity and reliability of the tool in a variety of different palliative settings.
To prospectively assess patient-rated symptoms in patients with brain metastases treated with whole brain radiotherapy, these patients were asked to rate their symptoms on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) before, and 1, 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks following the radiation treatment. ESAS evaluates pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, appetite, sense of well-being, and shortness of breath on a scale of 0-10 (0=absence of symptom and 10=worst possible symptom). Patients with a language barrier or significant cognitive impairment were excluded. The mean difference of ESAS symptoms at each follow up were compared with baseline and P or =10% over the last 6 months). All patients were prescribed dexamethasone at varying doses during radiotherapy. The dose fractionations were 20 Gy in 5 fractions, 138 (81%); 30 Gy in 10 fractions, 7 (4%); and others, 25 (15%). The baseline mean +/- SD for ESAS scores were: pain 2.4 +/- 2.8, fatigue 5.3 +/- 2.8, nausea 1.3 +/- 2.2, depression 2.8 +/- 2.7, anxiety 3.6 +/- 3.0, drowsiness 3.5 +/- 2.9, appetite 3.0 +/- 3.2, sense of well-being 3.8 +/- 2.7, and shortness of breath 2.3 +/- 2.5. For the entire cohort, after the delivery of palliative radiotherapy for brain metastases, there were statistically significant deteriorations in the mean differences from the baseline for the following ESAS domains: fatigue 1.0 to 1.8; drowsiness 1.2 to 1.8; and appetite 2.2 to 2.4. The data demonstrate that certain parameters of quality of life worsen after whole brain radiotherapy.