Research Article| Volume 10, ISSUE 1, P42-47, January 2019

Clinician-observed and patient-reported toxicities and their association with poor tolerance to therapy in older patients with head and neck or lung cancer treated with curative radiotherapy



      The agreement between clinician- and patient-reported toxicities and their association with poor tolerance to therapy were assessed in an older population receiving curative radiotherapy (RT).

      Materials and Methods

      Patients ≥ 65 years old with newly-diagnosed head and neck or lung cancer receiving curative RT ± chemotherapy were enrolled on a prospective, observational study. Agreement between clinician (CTCAEv4.02) and patient (PRO-CTCAE, EORTC QLQ-C30) report of toxicities were assessed at baseline, during treatment, and post-treatment. The association of clinician- and patient-reported symptoms with poor tolerance to therapy (defined as hospitalization, >3-day treatment delay, change in treatment regimen, or death) was assessed.


      Among 45 patients, median age was 71, 60% had head and neck cancer, and 47% received concurrent chemotherapy with RT. In comparing CTCAE vs PRO-CTCAE, there was good agreement at baseline except for fatigue, anorexia, and pain, where clinicians under-reported the severity. The discrepancy increased during treatment with clinicians reporting lower severity in ≥50% of matched pairs for 4/10 symptoms assessed. At follow-up, clinicians under-reported severity in ≥50% of pairs for 7/10 symptoms. CTCAE vs EORTC QLQ-C30 mirrored these findings. Patient-reported symptoms of nausea and dysphagia at 2 weeks and clinician-observed symptoms of nausea and dysphagia at 4 weeks were associated with poor tolerance to therapy.


      Clinicians under-report toxicities during and after curative RT in older patients with head and neck or lung cancer. Select toxicities reported by patients early in treatment and clinicians later in treatment were associated with poor tolerance to cancer therapy, providing valuable complementary information.


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