Treatment priorities in oncology: do we want to live longer or better?

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Treatment priorities in oncology: do we want to live longer or better?

Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2014 Aug;69(8):509-14

Authors: Marta GN, Del Nero LG, Marta GN, Mangabeira A, Critchi G, Kovács MJ, Silva JL, Saad ED

Abstract
OBJECTIVES: Despite the progress achieved in the fight against cancer over the past several years, assessing the needs, goals and preferences of patients with cancer is of the utmost importance for the delivery of health care. We sought to assess priorities regarding quantity versus quality of life among Brazilian patients, comparing them with individuals without cancer.
METHODS: Using a questionnaire presenting four hypothetical cancer cases, we interviewed cancer patients, oncology health-care professionals and laypersons, most of whom had administrative functions in our hospital.
RESULTS: A total of 214 individuals participated: 101 patients, 44 health-care professionals and 69 laypersons. The mean ages in the three groups were 56, 34 and 31 years old, respectively (p<0.001). The patients had gastrointestinal (25%), breast (22%), hematologic (10%), lung (8%) or other tumors (36%) and the tumor-node- metastasis (TNM) stage was I, II, III or IV in 22%, 13%, 34% and 31% of cases, respectively. Treatment priorities differed significantly among the three groups (p = 0.005), with survival time being a higher priority for patients than for the other two groups and with opposite trends regarding quality of life. In multivariate analysis, the age and sex distributions were not associated with the choice to maximize quality of life. In this limited sample of cancer patients, there were no associations between treatment priorities and disease stages.
CONCLUSIONS: Both survival time and quality of life appeared to be important to cancer patients, oncology health-care professionals and laypersons, but survival time seemed to have higher priority for people diagnosed with cancer than for healthy people. Additionally, survival seemed to be more important than quality of life for all three groups assessed.

PMID: 25141108 [PubMed – in process]