Evaluation of the Side-Effects of Chemotherapy in Patients with Cancer

Background: Cytotoxic chemotherapy destroys not only cancer cells but also normal healthy cells, leading to the occurrence of multiple side effects, the nature and extent of which depend on several factors. Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore the type and the intensity of the side effects and symptoms produced by anticancer agents. Method: The study sample comprised 153 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who were attending a one-day clinic for the administration of their chemotherapeutic agents in a private hospital in Athens from January 2007 to January 2008. Data collection was conducted using the M.D. Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI). Statistical analysis was performed using x2-test of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 16. The statistical significance level adopted was p<0.05. Results: Of the 153 cancer patients who participated, 49% were men and 51% women. Regarding gender differences, men more frequently reported experiencing intense pain (p=0.031), intense nausea (p=0.046) and vomiting (p=0.010), respiratory symptoms, (p=0.003), memory problems (p=0.009), severe diarrhoea (p=0.001) and severe constipation (p=0.001), symptoms which significantly affected their ability to walk (p=0.004). Conversely, women reported feeling more intense sadness than men (p=0.007). Compared to postmenopausal women, perimenopausal female patients reported experiencing more severe pain (p=0.004), fatigue (p=0.013), nausea (p=0.001), anxiety (p=0.016), respiratory symptoms (p≤0.001), anorexia (p=0.005), sadness (p≤0.001) and diarrhoea (p=0.003). These symptoms exerted a negative effect on the perimenopausal women’s general activity (p=0.001), mood (p=0.003), their work and housekeeping (p=0.002), interpersonal relationships (p=0.023), walking (p=0.003) and their capacity to enjoy life (p=0.003). Regarding the specific type of anticancer treatment, patients undergoing chemotherapy with concurrent radiotherapy more frequently reported mild pain (p=0.031) and intense nausea, anxiety and anorexia (p=0.042, p=0.022, p=0.021, respectively). Finally, regarding the type of the chemotherapy regime received, those patients receiving taxane-based regimes more often reported intense anorexia (p=0.032), a sense of dryness of the mouth (p=0.027) and severe cough (p=0.001). Conversely, patients undergoing platinum-based chemotherapy treatment reported memory deficits of greater severity (p=0.027). Conclusions: The most frequent side effects of chemotherapy that were reported by the respondents in the present study included fatigue, mouth dryness, nausea, constipation, anorexia, vomiting, pain, sadness and anxiety. All these side-effects should be taken seriously into consideration during the planning of treatment, and arrangements should be made for individual nursing treatment to be applied.

Category: Volume 49, N 4
Hits: 804 Hits
Created Date: 15-12-2010
Authors: Maria Polikandrioti , Eleni Gerasimou , Grigoris Kotronoulas , Athanasia Tsami , Eleni Evagelou , Eleni Kyritsi