Patient education can improve interactions with their healthcare team and provide coping mechanisms for the psychosocial effects of metastatic breast cancer, according to study findings presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on December 8, 2018.
Researchers assessed participant experiences from the Cancer Support Community’s national evidence-based educational program, Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Metastatic Breast Cancer. The program is intended for patients with metastatic breast cancer and their families, providing information on treatment, adverse event (AE) management, and social and emotional challenges of the disease.
A total of 427 individuals participating in 43 U.S. Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Metastatic Breast Cancer workshops between 2014 and 2017 completed program evaluation surveys on factors that included pre- and post-workshop knowledge and intentions for patient-provider communication post-workshop. Questions focused on how participants previously sought information on metastatic breast cancer and whether the workshop led to positive knowledge gains.
Most participants (71%) had cancer or were survivors; the others were spouses/partners (11%), family members (10%), and friends (8%). The mean patient age was 47 years (standard deviation = 24 years). Among patients and survivors, 70% received the diagnosis within the past two years and 65% reported heavy involvement in treatment decisions.
The most common treatment-related AEs were fatigue (15%), anxiety (10%), pain (10%), and depression (10%).
Most respondents reported emotional distress due to the cancer, including 72% of patients and survivors and 18% of caregivers.
Most participants (83%) said they gained a high or very high level of knowledge about metastatic breast cancer from the workshop, representing a significant increase compared to preworkshop levels (p < 0.05). Following the workshop, caregivers were equally as likely as patients and survivors to report improvements in
- Knowledge about metastatic breast cancer treatment options
- Confidence to participate in treatment decision-making
- Ability to ask questions about AEs and treatment.
Most workshop participants said they felt better prepared to cope emotionally with their metastatic breast cancer experience after attending the workshop, including 73% of patients and survivors and 78% of caregivers.