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Survivorship Program Increases Satisfaction, Improves Quality of Life in Recurrent Breast Cancer


“Survivors living with recurrent breast cancer have unique needs and programs that address these needs can enhance patient satisfaction,” the study authors wrote.

Utilization of a survivorship care program was associated with increased satisfaction and quality of life among patients with recurrent breast cancer, according to study results presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.

“Survivors living with recurrent breast cancer have unique needs and programs that address these needs can enhance patient satisfaction,” the study authors wrote in a poster presented at the meeting.

In the United States, there are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors; however, there are very few programs that exist to address the specific needs of individuals living with recurrent breast cancer, including their lack of curative treatment, limited supportive care resources, changes in relationships, fluctuations in functional status, existential or spiritual crises, practical concerns and their need for advanced care planning, the authors wrote.

Therefore, the researchers — from the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute at the Christiana Care Health System in Newark, Delaware – evaluated the implementation of a survivorship program. The study aimed to implement a program utilizing a coaching intervention tailored to the specific needs of patients with recurrent breast cancer. In turn, the authors hoped to improve quality of life among these individuals while also increasing patient satisfaction.

The authors named the program Health Outcomes for Positivity and Encouragement, or H.O.P.E. “The name was created as a result of concerns expressed by patients regarding the word survivor,” they explained. “Healthy outcomes are defined by the patient, positivity can be found in learning new ways to manage concerns, and encouragement is the premise of this program.”

Of 71 referrals to the program, 31 women participated.

The program was successfully implemented and the findings evaluating it were consistent with previous literature demonstrating that addressing survivorship concerns among patients with recurrent breast cancer improves quality of life.

Moreover, 29% of survivors who participated in the H.O.P.E. program contacted the study’s coordination, asking for more information and further support.

The study authors acknowledged their study was limited by the potential of other, unknown factors that could have contributed to changes in quality of life, as well as the study’s small sample size — which consisted predominantly of well-educated white women being treated in one cancer center. Lastly, the authors noted that it was unknown why six survivors who initially participated in the program did not complete the follow-up surveys, which, in turn, was also limiting.

“Creation of an infrastructure that promoted individualized care to survivors with recurrent breast cancer is an essential component of holistic care across the cancer continuum,” the study authors concluded.

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