TAMPA, Florida"Increasingly we have acknowledged that there is more to cancer treatment than the eradication of disease," stated Paul Jacobsen, PhD. "The treatment of anemia and its effects on quality of life have demonstrated that a treatment can be considered effective and clinically useful if it results in significant quality-of-life benefits, even in the absence of significant survival benefits."
The challenge, as outlined by Dr. Jacobsen, is how to accurately measure quality-of-life issues and incorporate them into clinical practice. Dr. Jacobsen is program leader, psychosocial and palliative care program, at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, and professor, department of psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
It is commonly agreed that quality of life is "a multidimensional construct that is best measured using instruments that assess multiple domains of functioning and well-being," Dr. Jacobsen said. "By definition, it is a subjective phenomenon and the patient is the best judge of his or her own quality of life."
Three quality-of-life measures are commonly used in oncology:
- Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT);
- European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality-Of-Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQC-30); and
- Linear analogue self-assessment scales (LASA).
What and When to Measure
Selection of quality-of-life measures for a study depends on the specific research questions and the populations being studied. While frequent assessments of quality of life would provide more complete data, constraints on frequency include not wanting to burden patients and the financial costs involved in collecting and compiling data.
Beneficial Uses of Data