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Symptom management research in cancer patients: state of the art
  1. K Kroenke
  1. Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA


Abstract Both physical symptoms (eg, pain, fatigue, insomnia) and psychological symptoms (eg, depression, anxiety) are prevalent in all types and stages of cancer, from newly diagnosed patients to disease-free cancer survivors to individuals with recurrent or progressive disease. Also, patients often have multiple symptoms, so programmes that focus on single symptoms often fail to optimize treatment outcomes. Additionally, effective treatments include both medications and nonpharmacological interventions, so that administration of only one type of treatment likewise may fail to optimize therapy.

Key concepts in symptom management research derived from several practical clinical trials will be discussed, including:

  1. Management of patients with multiple as well as single symptoms;

  2. Integrated approach to physical and psychological symptoms;

  3. Measurement of outcomes relevant to symptom therapy;

  4. Use of technology (eg, automated home-based symptom monitoring) to augment clinical care;

  5. Adoption of a ‘treat-to-target’ approach;

  6. Decisions regarding medication versus nonpharmacological therapies;

  7. Roles of different types of clinicians in cancer symptom care;

  8. Focusing on specific cancers versus multiple types of cancer.

Finally, several promising areas for future research in the management of cancer-related symptoms will be highlighted.

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