Cancer patients want more written information on side-effects

Patients undergoing radiotherapy for pelvic cancers want to receive more information about the likely side-effects of the treatment, a new survey has shown.

The patient survey was conducted by the Macmillan Colorectal Cancer Nursing Team at St Mark’s Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex, to determine satisfaction with information provision during pelvic radiotherapy and to identify any unmet information needs.

 A questionnaire was designed that incorporated questions from the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Group information questionnaire. Eligible patients were identified from a database of those who had received treatment at the cancer centre over an 18-month period. Eighty three patients were sent the questionnaire and 58 (70%) responded.

Nearly half would have liked more information and none wanted less. More than two thirds of respondents stated they had received written information, which in half of cases was offered by a nurse. Information on potential late effects of radiotherapy was well received, with most indicating a preference to be offered it before treatment.

The authors of the study said individualised assessment of patients' information needs was vital before, during and immediately after treatment, and again during rehabilitation. They concluded that healthcare professionals should provide adequate information about the next stages of care to patients without overwhelming them. In addition, nurses should establish early in the care pathway how each patient wants information to be delivered to them and when.

The results of the survey were published in the journal Cancer Nursing Practice.





Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
Relating to the pelvis. Full medical glossary
The treatment of disease using radiation. Full medical glossary
Relating to the rectum, the lowest part of the bowel leading to the anus. Full medical glossary
The treatment of a person with an illness or disability to improve their function and health. Full medical glossary