Emotional Burden of Ovarian Cancer High But Often Overlooked, Review Aiming to ‘Amplify’ Patient Voice Reports

Emotional Burden of Ovarian Cancer High But Often Overlooked, Review Aiming to ‘Amplify’ Patient Voice Reports

Ovarian cancer carries a considerable psychological burden for patients, especially for those with recurrent cancer, but care for patients’ emotional well-being is lacking, a literature review involving patients in Europe reports.

The TESARO-sponsored review, titled “Our Way Forward – Ovarian Cancer in Europe,” draws on more than 65 patient surveys and publications conducted over the last 15 years to focus attention on doctor-patient communication and the treatment needs of women with this cancer.

Its findings were released on May 8, World Ovarian Cancer Day, the first of a two-part expansion of TESARO’s Our Way Forward program, an initiative launched in the United States in 2017 with the assistance of patient advocacy groups. This first part — which included input from European and ovarian cancer groups — focuses on patient responses, a planned second review will look at those of healthcare professionals.

In both the U.S. and Europe, Our Way Forward aims to be “a call-to-action for ovarian cancer patients, their loved ones and healthcare providers to rethink how they talk about advanced ovarian cancer and ways to partner together to navigate the physical and emotional challenges that the disease brings,” a company press release states.

Insights are intended to support ovarian cancer advocacy groups and “amplify” their and patient voices by “helping in the development of resources and tools.”

Findings in this review revealed:

  • 79 percent of patients said they felt uncomfortable raising psychological and emotional concerns during a consultation
  • 53 percent said symptoms of cancer recurrence were never discussed with them (although this cancer, often diagnosed in later stages, returns in about 85% of advanced ovarian cancer patients)
  • about 80 percent report mental health difficulties, with anxiety and depression known to be risk factors for poorer outcomes
  • 86 percent of patients expressed a willingness to try a treatment that might improve quality of life, even if it couldn’t prolong it
  • 66 percent of women with recurrent cancer report difficulties concentrating, and 60 percent say do less than they want to do because of their emotional status
  • because ovarian cancer is often diagnosed late, healthcare professionals are focused on urgent treatment rather than the psychological aspects of care
  • patients are adequately informed on tangible and practical aspects of disease treatment, but much less so on psychosocial aspects and coping skills

“There is clearly a need for better information and enhanced dialogue around the care of women with ovarian cancer in Europe, as well as new treatments that don’t impair quality of life. Through Our Way Forward and strong collaboration with the patient advocacy community, we aim to help support women with ovarian cancer to speak out and bring their needs to the attention of those that can make a difference, so both their psychological and physical needs can be met, every step of the way,” said Orlando Oliveira, senior vice president and general manager of TESARO International.

An estimated  45,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer across Europe each year, the release states.