Background There are a variety of ways of describing response to oncological treatments eg, response rate, progression-free survival and overall survival. However, there is limited information about the terminology preferences of oncologists or palliative medicine physicians.
Method All oncologists and palliative medicine physicians (including consultants, specialty trainees and “other” doctors) from four cancer centres in the United Kingdom were contacted in April 2016 to complete an online survey.
The question that was posed was as follows: “A new treatment is developed for carcinoma of the umbilicus which increases the median survival of patients from six months to twelve months. However, 75% of patients have an objective decrease in size of the tumour after six months of treatment. How would you explain the new treatment to a patient with carcinoma of the umbilicus?” Potential responses were: “with treatment you have a 50% chance of surviving twelve months”; “treatment will double your life expectancy”; “the new treatment is a ‘game changer’”; “treatment will increase your life expectancy by six months”; and “75% of patients will respond to treatment”.
Results There were 111 responses in total (oncologists=97, palliative medicine physicians=14). Table 1 demonstrates the range of responses.
Conclusions In both groups, the most popular answers were “treatment will increase your life expectancy by six months” and “75% of patients will respond to treatment”, with more oncologists talking about increase in survival and more palliative medicine physicians talking about response rates. These results were somewhat surprising, and so we plan to explore this issue further with a new mixed method research study.
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