From the Journals

Survey: Supportive oncodermatology program improves QOL for cancer patients



Enrollment in a supportive oncodermatology program was associated with improved quality of life in patients who experienced dermatologic effects from cancer therapy, according to a cross-sectional survey of participants.

The average quality of life score prior to program participation in 34 adult patients enrolled in the George Washington University Supportive Oncodermatology Clinic who responded to the survey was 6.5, indicating a moderate effect of their dermatologic symptoms on quality of life. After the beginning of treatment, the average score declined significantly to 3.8, indicating a small effect of the symptoms on quality of life, Leora Aizman, a medical student at George Washington University, Washington, and colleagues reported in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

“On average, [quality of life] total scores were significantly reduced by 2.7 points after joining the supportive oncodermatology clinic,” the authors wrote.

Decreases were seen across all quality of life categories, including physical symptoms, embarrassment, clothes, social/leisure, work/school, and close relationships; the only score that didn’t decrease significantly was for physical symptoms of itch, pain, or soreness (1.43 vs. 1.1 before and after therapy), whereas the category that showed the greatest difference was embarrassment about the dermatologic condition (1.57 vs. 0.83 before and after therapy).

As for satisfaction with the program, the average participant satisfaction score was 4.15, indicating satisfaction with the program. The lowest – an average of 3.67, indicating neutral to satisfied – was related to the effects of the program on treatment adherence.

Survey respondents were adults aged over 18 years who received dermatologic care between the opening of the clinic in May 2017 and Nov. 1, 2019. The online survey included questions adapted from the Dermatology Life Quality Index and Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire.

The findings, though limited by the potential for recall bias and other factors inherent in a survey-based study, suggest that participation in a comprehensive, supportive program could be of benefit for cancer patients experiencing dermatologic conditions from cancer treatment, the authors wrote, explaining that such conditions can be disabling and are associated with negative psychosocial effects. In fact, more than half of all cancer patients experience treatment interruption because of such events.

The findings also underscore the importance of a close partnerships between dermatologists and oncologists as nearly 90% of the surveyed patients were referred to the clinic by their oncologist, the authors wrote. However, the uncertainty that survey respondents experienced with respect to the effects of program participation on treatment adherence highlights a need for further study.

“Our results highlight that supportive oncodermatology interventions improve the psychosocial wellness of patients but require further research on evidence-based preventive and active management strategies,” they wrote.

Additionally, more work is needed to “optimize treatment of secondary toxicities and allow for the continuation of life-prolonging anticancer therapy,” they noted, adding that “prospective, multicenter studies on the management of [dermatologic adverse events] are critical to better understand the effectiveness of these clinics.”

This study was funded by a La Roche–Posay grant. Ms. Aizman reported having no disclosures. One coauthor reported relationships involving consulting and/or honoraria with several companies, including La Roche–Posay.

SOURCE: Aizman L et al. J Drugs Dermatol. 2020 Apr 17. doi: 10.36849/JDD.2020.5040.

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