I recently attended the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) meeting, a consortium of research institutions doing clinical trials on cancer. The conference highlighted how new research will remarkably affect cancer survivorship, quality of life (QOL), integrative care and our ability to predict and provide needed services more accurately and with greater cost effectiveness for cancer survivors. The tools for implementing cancer control are evolving quickly.
Here are some highlights from the meeting:
- Biomarkers, which are any human characteristics that are measurable including everything from gene expression (or over-expression) to pain surveys, can potentially predict long term survival as well as the specific services that will most benefit patients.
- Symptoms that are increasingly predictable by biomarker assays include fatigue, insomnia, pain, anorexia, nausea, depression and others. This means that we will soon be able to better predict the patients who will be affected by these problems and deliver interventions much earlier and more effectively.
- Patient satisfaction is frequently not related to treatment outcome. Factors such as QOL and survivorship are important.
- Lung cancer patients suffer inordinately high, long-term QOL deficits. Many of these respond well to interventions but interventions are frequently not provided to patients with lung cancer.
- Symptom clusters ...