Background Maintenance therapy induces remission and prolongs disease free interval in primary and recurrent ovarian disease. For the treatment decision making process, aspects of quality of life and patients′ preferences are crucial, despite the fact that scientific data are lacking. Therefore, we conducted this European-wide study in patients with ovarian cancer.
Methods A 25 item questionnaire was provided to ovarian cancer patients via the internet or as a paper version in 10 European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Finland, Turkey, and Spain). Data recorded were demographics, tumor stage, therapy after firstline and recurrent disease, preferences for administration, and expectations concerning maintenance therapy.
Results Overall, 1954 patients participated from September 2013 to March 2016; 42% had recurrent disease. Most patients (98%) with primary epithelial ovarian cancer underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy (91%). Almost one-third of participants (29%) were receiving maintenance therapy whereas 45% had only heard of it. For 70% of patients with primary epithelial ovarian cancer, they heard about maintenance therapy from their doctor, 10% heard about maintenance therapy from other patients, and 8% from the internet. The main source of information about maintenance therapy in patients with epithelial ovarian cancer relapse was from the treating physician (72%), from other patients (8%), and from the internet (7%). For patients undergoing maintenance therapy, the four most disturbing adverse effects were polyneuropathy (37%), nausea (36%), hair loss (34%), and vomiting (34%). The main objective of maintenance treatment, as perceived by patients, was to increase the chances of cure (73%), improvement in quality of life (47%), and delay in tumor growth (37%). Many patients were willing to undergo maintenance therapy until tumor progression (38%) and 39% would prefer oral administration. No significant differences were detected in the cross country subanalysis regarding expectations of maintenance therapy and patients with primary or relapsed ovarian cancer.
Conclusion Patients with ovarian cancer were willing to accept maintenance therapy of prolonged duration and preferred oral administration. There is still a gap between the efficacy of maintenance therapy and patient expectations. Patients need more information on the adverse effects and treatment goals of maintenance therapy to avoid misunderstandings.
- ovarian cancer
- quality of life (PRO)/palliative care
- ovarian neoplasms
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