Use of a simple form to facilitate communication on long-term consequences of treatment in sarcoma survivors

Clin Sarcoma Res. 2020 Jan 16:10:2. doi: 10.1186/s13569-019-0124-3. eCollection 2020.


Background: To report on our experience using a simple optional form to facilitate communication on late effects between the patients and the oncologists during outpatient follow-up and to detail on the spectrum of challenges reported by sarcoma survivors.

Methods: The form was presented for the patients to complete before their consultation and covered topics related to late effects and unmet needs that the patient wished to discuss with the medical personnel. Logistic regression analysis examined how the distribution of the topics varied with age, gender, diagnosis and type of treatment received.

Results: The form was manageable in a busy outpatient clinic. Of the 265 patients that received the form, 236 (89%) returned it. Patients in a palliative setting and those with other diagnosis than bone sarcoma (BS) and soft-tissue sarcoma (STS) were excluded for subsequent analyses. The final study-cohort comprised 160 patients, 54 (34%) with BS and 106 (66%) with STS. Among these, 140 (88%) had late-effect topics they wanted to discuss with their oncologist. Fatigue was raised by 39% of the patients, pain by 29% and impaired mobility by 23%. BS patients raised fatigue more often (P < 0.005) than those with STS. Patients who had undergone multimodal treatment with chemotherapy raised fatigue more frequently (P < 0.001) than those who had only undergone surgery, radiotherapy or both.

Conclusions: A simple form on the long-term consequences of sarcoma treatment achieved a high response rate, was feasible to use in an outpatient clinic and facilitated communication on these issues. Fatigue was the most frequent topic raised and it was raised significantly more often in patients who had undergone chemotherapy.

Keywords: Bone sarcoma; Fatigue; Follow-up; Late effects; Patient consultation; Soft tissue sarcoma.