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Nausea still the poor relation in antiemetic therapy? The impact on cancer patients’ quality of life and psychological adjustment of nausea, vomiting and appetite loss, individually and concurrently as part of a symptom cluster

Journal title
Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
Publication year
Pirri, C.; Bayliss, E.; Trotter, J.; Olver, I. N.; Katris, P.; Drummond, P.; Bennett, R.

PURPOSE: Despite significant antiemetic advances, almost 50% of treated cancer patients still experience nausea and vomiting (N&V). The goal of antiemetic therapy–complete prevention of treatment-induced nausea and/or vomiting (TIN+/-V)–remains elusive for several reasons. Potentially, N&V may be part of a symptom cluster where co-occurring symptoms negatively affect antiemetic management. Consequently, we examined TIN+/-V incidence and the impact of nausea, vomiting and symptom cluster(s) containing them, respectively, on patients’ quality of life (QoL) and psychological adjustment across treatment. METHODS: A longitudinal secondary analysis was performed on data from a prospective, observational QoL study involving 200 newly diagnosed cancer patients who underwent combined modality treatment. QoL, psychological adjustment and patient/clinical characteristics were examined at pretreatment, on-treatment (8 weeks) and post-treatment. RESULTS: Overall, 62% of patients experienced TIN+/-V, with TIN (60%) doubling TIV incidence (27 %). Exploratory factor analyses of QoL scores at each treatment time point identified a recurrent gastrointestinal symptom cluster comprising nausea, vomiting and appetite loss. Approximately two thirds of patients reported co-occurrence of all three symptoms, which exerted synergistic effects of multiplicative proportions on overall QoL. Patients who reported co-occurrence of these symptoms during treatment experienced significantly greater QoL impairment (physical, role and social functioning, fatigue, N&V, appetite loss, overall physical health, overall QOL) and psychological distress (cancer distress, premorbid neuroticism) than those unaffected (0.001 > p

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