A systematic review of patient-reported outcome measures for advanced skin cancer patients

Arch Dermatol Res. 2023 Aug;315(6):1473-1480. doi: 10.1007/s00403-022-02479-0. Epub 2022 Dec 5.


Many patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) have been used to study quality of life (QOL) in the skin cancer population. Advanced melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) may be associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and treatment side effects; however, it is unclear which PROM is valid and appropriate to use in these populations for both clinical and research purposes. We aimed to identify the PROMs that have been used to measure QOL in advanced skin cancer patients and determine which of these PROMs have been validated to assess QOL outcomes in this population. A PubMed and EMBASE search was conducted from its inception to March 2021 according to PRISMA guidelines with a comprehensive list of search terms under three main topics: (1) PROM; (2) advanced skin cancer; and (3) staging and interventions. We included articles utilizing a PROM measuring QOL and having a patient population with advanced skin cancer defined as melanoma stage > T1a or non-melanoma AJCC stage T3 or greater. Advanced skin cancer patients were also defined as those with metastasis or requiring adjuvant therapy (systemic chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy). Studies were excluded according to the following criteria: mix of low-risk and advanced skin cancer patients in the study population without stratification into low-risk and advanced groups, stage T1a melanoma or mix of stages without stratification, low-risk NMSC, no PROM (i.e., study specific questionnaires), non-English publication, review article or protocol paper, conference abstract, or populations including non-skin cancers. A total of 1,998 articles were identified. 82 met our inclusion criteria resulting in 22 PROMs: five generic health-related (QWB-SA, AQoL-8D, EQ-5D, SF-36, and PRISM), six general cancer (EORTC QLQ-C30, EORTC QLQ-C36, LASA, IOC, Rotterdam Symptom Checklist, and FACT-G), nine disease-focused or specialized (EORTC QLQ-H&N35, EORTC QLQ-MEL38, EORTC QLQ-BR23, Facial Disability Index, FACT-H&N, FACT-BRM, FACT-B, FACT-M, and scqolit), and two general dermatology (Skindex-16 and DLQI) PROMs. All PROMs have been generally validated except for EORTC QLQ-MEL38. Only two PROMs have been validated in the advanced melanoma population: FACT-M and EORTC QLQ-C36. No PROMS have been validated in the advanced NMSC population. The PROMs that were validated in the advanced melanoma population do not include QOL issues unique to advanced skin tumors such as odor, bleeding, itching, wound care burden, and public embarrassment. Breast cancer and head and neck cancer instruments were adapted but not validated for use in the advanced skin cancer population due to the lack of an adequate instrument for this population. This study highlights the need for PROM instrument validation or creation specifically geared toward the advanced skin cancer population. Future studies should aim to develop and validate a PROM to assess QOL in this population.

Keywords: Advanced skin cancer; Basal cell carcinoma; High-risk skin cancer; Melanoma; Squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / therapy
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Quality of Life
  • Skin Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires