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Curr Oncol. 2016 Aug;23(4):258-65. doi: 10.3747/co.23.3012. Epub 2016 Aug 12.

The prevalence and nature of supportive care needs in lung cancer patients.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, ON.
Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
Department of Biostatistics, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, ON.
Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
Oncology Nursing Research, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, ON.
Health Promotion and Wellness, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, ON.
Division of Medical Oncology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, ON.
Cancer Survivorship Program, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, ON.



In the present work, we set out to comprehensively describe the unmet supportive care and information needs of lung cancer patients.


This cross-sectional study used the Supportive Care Needs Survey Short Form 34 (34 items) and an informational needs survey (8 items). Patients with primary lung cancer in any phase of survivorship were included. Demographic data and treatment details were collected from the medical charts of participants. The unmet needs were determined overall and by domain. Univariable and multivariable regression analyses were performed to determine factors associated with greater unmet needs.


From August 2013 to February 2014, 89 patients [44 (49%) men; median age: 71 years (range: 44-89 years)] were recruited. The mean number of unmet needs was 8 (range: 0-34), and 69 patients (78%) reported at least 1 unmet need. The need proportions by domain were 52% health system and information, 66% psychological, 58% physical, 24% patient care, and 20% sexuality. The top 2 unmet needs were "fears of the cancer spreading" [n = 44 of 84 (52%)] and "lack of energy/tiredness" [n = 42 of 88 (48%)]. On multivariable analysis, more advanced disease and higher MD Anderson Symptom Inventory scores were associated with increased unmet needs. Patients reported that the most desired information needs were those for information on managing symptoms such as fatigue (78%), shortness of breath (77%), and cough (63%).


Unmet supportive care needs are common in lung cancer patients, with some patients experiencing a very high number of unmet needs. Further work is needed to develop resources to address those needs.


Lung cancer; patient education; quality of life; supportive care; survivorship

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