Cancer incidence is increasing worldwide. As a result, the need for cancer therapy as well as disease- and treatment-specific consultations of patients has grown. In spite of these well recognized changes, a number of countries face shortages in human resources involved in cancer care. The aim of this study was to better understand patients’ needs to further optimize cancer management.
An anonymous questionnaire was used to evaluate cancer patients’ knowledge about their disease, therapy and treatment-induced side effects. Moreover, patients’ suggestions for further development of patient counseling were collected.
The study was undertaken in the department of radiotherapy and oncological therapy of tertiary university hospital. Out of 71 cancer patients (mean age 62 years, 43 females, 28 males) who completed the survey, 35 (49%) had received in average 4 courses of chemotherapy and 36 (51%) full course of radiotherapy (mean dose 61 Gy). Although these patients already had long enough experience with these anti-cancer therapies, nearly half, 44% of patients still admitted that additional information about their cancer type was necessary. Furthermore, 39% of patients wanted to know more about the used cancer treatment modality and 45% of patients about treatment-induced side effects, showing that methods used for counseling were far away from the real needs and expectations of our patients. The survey revealed that besides doctors counseling, patients would also feel confident with consultations/guidance given by nurses or radiation technicians. In fact, a big proportion of patients (70%) would agree to be guided by specialized nurse or radiation technician. Out of the most proper forms of this proposed guidance, patients mentioned most frequently face to face consultations (55%), face to face consultations with supplementary information in written form (38%) as well as consultations by phone (23%).
This study showed that specialized counseling of nurses and/or radiation technicians is underused resource in cancer management. This information will be used to start with specialized consultations to optimize cancer management in our department.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.