Quality of life, mental health poorer in patients with rare cancers
Patients with rare cancers have worse psychosocial and quality of life outcomes compared with the general population of cancer patients, a recent study has shown.
Using the Distress Thermometer (DT), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General version, researchers assessed the mental health status and quality of life in 137 patients (mean age 50 years; 52.6 percent male) diagnosed with rare cancers. Chi-square tests were used to compare the rare vs general cancer populations.
In the study population, the most frequent form of rare cancer was seminoma of the testis, reported in 10.3 percent (n=14) of the participants. This was followed by endometroid adenocarcinoma (7.3 percent) and gastrointestinal stromal sarcoma (5.8 percent). Majority of the participants had received chemotherapy (73.7 percent) and surgery (76.6 percent).
According to the DT scale, almost half (49.6 percent) of the participants had moderate-to-severe distress, which was significantly higher than that in a US-based pan-cancer population (p=0.006). Physical (92.7 percent) and emotional (73.7 percent) problems were the principal drivers of distress.
Results of the HADS showed that the prevalence rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms were 19.7 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively, both of which were nonsignficantly lower than those in the pan-cancer cohort (24.0 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively).
Multivariate analysis identified various risk factors. Younger age was associated with significantly higher levels of distress (p=0.02), as were female sex (p<0.01) and undergoing evaluation during the active treatment phase (p=0.03). Female sex (p=0.0002) and being younger (p=0.04) were associated with greater anxiety.