Chemotherapy reductions, interruptions more likely in metastatic breast cancer

  • May 5, 2014

Among women with advanced breast cancer, those with distant metastases were more likely to experience chemotherapy dose alterations due to increased symptom burden and interference with daily life, according to study results presented at the 2014 Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress.

“Changes in chemotherapy protocol such as dose delays, reductions or stoppages can lead to suboptimal treatment of cancer,” the researchers wrote. “Yet, little is known about the relationship of alterations in chemotherapy and symptom severity and interference with daily life. Clinicians need to understand specific aspects of symptoms, as well as which symptoms may hinder dose completion, so they can provide focused symptom management interventions.”

Researchers reviewed data from 385 women with advanced breast cancer enrolled in a randomized clinical trial to assess these factors associated with chemotherapy dose alterations. Data were collected at baseline, 5 weeks and 11 weeks.

Overall, metastatic status was linked to dose delays and reductions and greater symptom severity, particularly among patients with distant metastases vs. loco-regional disease (P=.02).

Metastatic status and symptom interference with daily life also were significantly associated with chemotherapy dose delays and reductions (P=.04).

Severity of pain was the most significant symptom associated with dose delays or reductions among patients with distant metastases vs. loco-regional disease (P˂.01).

“These findings underscored the importance of assessing specific details about symptoms, including severity and interferences with daily life, and the relationship of these symptom attributes to treatment interruptions,” the researchers concluded. “Among those with distant metastasis, pain may be especially problematic.”

For more information:

Wyatt G. Symptom management and treatment interruptions among women with advanced breast cancer. Presented at: Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress; May 1-4, 2014; Anaheim, Calif.
Disclosure: The study was funded by the NIH. See the study for a full list of the researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.