Palliative Care 2016: Perception of Curability in Patients With Advanced Cancer Receiving Palliative Care

Key Points

  • Six hundred and eighty-one patients of the 1,390 (49%) reported that their cancer is curable, and 60% perceived that the goals of therapy was “to get rid of their cancer.”
  • Seventy-nine percent perceived that the goals of the therapy were to “make them feel better.”
  • Sixty-two percent perceived they were relatively healthy. 

There are limited data on the illness understanding and perception of curability among patients with advanced cancer receiving palliative care around the world. In a study led by Sriram Yennu, MD, MS, Associate Professor in the Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, investigators aimed to determine the frequency and factors associated with perception of curability in countries in North and South Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The findings were presented at the 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium (Abstract 5).

Methods

The researchers performed a secondary analysis of a study to determine the decisional control preferences in different countries. Patients with advanced cancer receiving palliative care were surveyed to assess their understanding of illness using a questionnaire.

Results

A total of 1,390 patients with advanced cancer were evaluated. The median age was 58; 55% were female; 59% were married; 47% were Catholic; and 36.2% were educated at a college or higher level degree.

Six hundred and eighty-one patients of the 1,390 (49%) reported that their cancer is curable, and 60% perceived that the goals of therapy was “to get rid of their cancer.” Seventy-nine percent perceived that the goals of the therapy were to “make them feel better.” Sixty-two percent perceived they were relatively healthy.

Logistic regression analysis showed that better Karnosfsky performance status (odds ratio [OR] = 1.009, P = .04), higher education (OR = 0.52, P = .0001), and being from Brazil, France, and South Africa were associated with patients being less likely to have a perception of curability. Patients from the Philippines and Jordan were more likely to have a perception of curability. Age, gender, marital status, religion, and passive decision control preferences were not significantly associated with perception of curability.

Conclusions

The perception of curability in patients with advanced cancer is 49% and significantly differs by education, performance status, and country of origin. The authors stated that further studies are needed to develop strategies to reduce this misperception and to promote early integration of palliative care.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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