Mental Health and Quality of Life for Cancer Patients before and during a Global Pandemic

A special issue of Current Oncology (ISSN 1718-7729). This special issue belongs to the section "Palliative and Supportive Care".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2023) | Viewed by 12030

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
1. Department of Urology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
2. Department of Radiation Oncology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
3. Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
Interests: oncology; cancer survivorship; prostate cancer; brain oncology; pancreatic cancer; urologic oncology; mental health; quality of life; psychosocial oncology; patient education and empowerment programs
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Guest Editor
Radiation Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
Interests: oncology; pediatrics cancer; breast cancer; prostate cancer; cancer survivorship; psychosocial oncology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Before the pandemic, one in three cancer survivors were expected to suffer significant depression or anxiety during their cancer journey. Covid has amplified the stress of a diagnosis through delays in diagnosis, workup and treatment, social isolation and uncertainty about the future outcomes. Add worries about dying from the virus, and we have a silent and growing epidemic of patient and family members suffering alone at home.

In this call we hope to shed light on the mental health crisis in cancer care both related to and transcending the current pandemic. We’re asking which individuals are at highest risk? How can we effectively screen for these patients/families?  How do we integrate screening programs into our busy clinics? Which interventions work?  What are the role of education programs? How do we use technology to support our patients? Which programs are cost-effective? How can we draw on peers, mentors and community-based organizations to support survivors? How can researchers translate their findings more quickly into cancer healthcare systems?

Innovative approaches to treatment and supportive programming which aim to improve quality of life of our patients are also welcome in this call for abstracts.  As we raise awareness of (and address) the mental health crisis in our patients, we also need to consider the toll this past year has taken on the health care professionals (submissions welcome). As the pandemic winds down this year, let’s take this opportunity to create the programming (and treatment) which will support our patients mental health in the long term.

Current Oncology, an international, peer-reviewed open access journal on oncology, is planning a Special Issue on "Mental Health and Quality of Life for Cancer Patients". We are seeking for submissions of original research, case reports, and reviews to highlight all these aforementioned developments in optimizing the mental health and quality of life of cancer patients. Studies showing meaningful but negative results are also welcomed. 

Dr. Gabriela Ilie
Dr. Rob Rutledge
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Current Oncology is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • cancer
  • diagnosis
  • treatment
  • survivorship
  • quality of life
  • psychosocial oncology
  • mental health
  • social isolation
  • oncological outcomes
  • supportive programs
  • survivorship care
  • pandemic
  • COVID-19
  • patients
  • health care providers

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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10 pages, 872 KiB  
Communication
Evaluation of a Virtual Dance Class for Cancer Patients and Their Partners during the Corona Pandemic—A Real-World Observational Study
by Jutta Hübner, Ivonne Rudolph, Tobias Wozniak, Ronny Pietsch, Mascha Margolina, Isabel Garcia, Katharina Mayr-Welschlau, Thorsten Schmidt and Christian Keinki
Curr. Oncol. 2023, 30(5), 4427-4436; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol30050337 - 24 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1216
Abstract
Background: During the corona pandemic, all courses on physical activity for cancer patients were canceled. The aim of our study was to evaluate the feasibility of switching dancing classes for patients and their partners to online classes. Methods: Patients and partners from courses [...] Read more.
Background: During the corona pandemic, all courses on physical activity for cancer patients were canceled. The aim of our study was to evaluate the feasibility of switching dancing classes for patients and their partners to online classes. Methods: Patients and partners from courses at four different locations who consented to the online course offer were asked to fill in a pseudonymous questionnaire on access to the training, technical challenges, acceptance and well-being (1-item visual analog scale from 1 to 10) before and after the training. Results: Sixty-five participants returned the questionnaire (39 patients and 23 partners). Fifty-eight (89.2%) had danced before, and forty-eight (73.8%) had visited at least one course of ballroom dancing for cancer patients before. The first access to the online platform was difficult for 39 participants (60%). Most participants (57; 87.7%) enjoyed the online classes, but 53 (81.5%) rated them as less fun than the real classes as direct contact was missing. Well-being increased significantly after the lesson and remained improved for several days. Conclusion: Transforming a dancing class is feasible for participants with digital experience and goes along with technical difficulties. It is a substitute for real classes if mandatory and improves well-being. Full article
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22 pages, 526 KiB  
Article
An Expectation-Maximization Algorithm for Including Oncological COVID-19 Deaths in Survival Analysis
by Francesca De Felice, Luca Mazzoni and Franco Moriconi
Curr. Oncol. 2023, 30(2), 2105-2126; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol30020163 - 8 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1600
Abstract
We address the problem of how COVID-19 deaths observed in an oncology clinical trial can be consistently taken into account in typical survival estimates. We refer to oncological patients since there is empirical evidence of strong correlation between COVID-19 and cancer deaths, which [...] Read more.
We address the problem of how COVID-19 deaths observed in an oncology clinical trial can be consistently taken into account in typical survival estimates. We refer to oncological patients since there is empirical evidence of strong correlation between COVID-19 and cancer deaths, which implies that COVID-19 deaths cannot be treated simply as non-informative censoring, a property usually required by the classical survival estimators. We consider the problem in the framework of the widely used Kaplan–Meier (KM) estimator. Through a counterfactual approach, an algorithmic method is developed allowing to include COVID-19 deaths in the observed data by mean-imputation. The procedure can be seen in the class of the Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithms and will be referred to as Covid-Death Mean-Imputation (CoDMI) algorithm. We discuss the CoDMI underlying assumptions and the convergence issue. The algorithm provides a completed lifetime data set, where each Covid-death time is replaced by a point estimate of the corresponding virtual lifetime. This complete data set is naturally equipped with the corresponding KM survival function estimate and all available statistical tools can be applied to these data. However, mean-imputation requires an increased variance of the estimates. We then propose a natural extension of the classical Greenwood’s formula, thus obtaining expanded confidence intervals for the survival function estimate. To illustrate how the algorithm works, CoDMI is applied to real medical data extended by the addition of artificial Covid-death observations. The results are compared with the estimates provided by the two naïve approaches which count COVID-19 deaths as censoring or as deaths by the disease under study. In order to evaluate the predictive performances of CoDMI an extensive simulation study is carried out. The results indicate that in the simulated scenarios CoDMI is roughly unbiased and outperforms the estimates obtained by the naïve approaches. A user-friendly version of CoDMI programmed in R is freely available. Full article
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13 pages, 1563 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Lack of Awareness in Age-Related Quality of Life, Coping with Stress, and Depression among Patients with Malignant Melanoma
by Ana-Olivia Toma, Estera Boeriu, Luminita Decean, Vlad Bloanca, Felix Bratosin, Mihaela Codrina Levai, Neeharika Gayatri Vasamsetti, Satish Alambaram, Andrada Licinia Oprisoni, Bogdan Miutescu, Kakarla Hemaswini, Iulius Juganaru, Andrei-Cristian Bondar and Marius Liviu Moise
Curr. Oncol. 2023, 30(2), 1516-1528; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol30020116 - 23 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2717
Abstract
Almost one-third of all malignant melanoma patients exhibit emotional stress indicating the need for professional care. Considering this, patients’ psychological needs are routinely overlooked and unfulfilled, even though there is substantial evidence that psychological therapies may enhance psychosocial outcomes for melanoma patients, such [...] Read more.
Almost one-third of all malignant melanoma patients exhibit emotional stress indicating the need for professional care. Considering this, patients’ psychological needs are routinely overlooked and unfulfilled, even though there is substantial evidence that psychological therapies may enhance psychosocial outcomes for melanoma patients, such as low mood, sadness, and anxiety. Among developing countries and some health systems in developed regions, the lack of awareness and screening methods for skin cancer creates a high risk of psychological issues associated with more advanced diseases. Therefore, the current study aimed to investigate and compare the impact of malignant melanoma awareness for screening, prevention, and treatment on the patient’s quality of life and coping with stress and depression, based on patients’ age. This cross-sectional study recruited 238 patients with malignant melanoma distributed into two groups, Group A patients between 18 and 65 years and Group B patients older than 65. There were no significant gender differences and cancer staging differences between groups, although self-reported depressed mood and anhedonia were significantly more frequent in younger adults with malignant melanoma (43.8% vs. 28.9%). From the unstandardized surveys, it was observed that significantly fewer patients from Group B knew that melanoma could be caused by sun exposure (34.2% vs. 52.2%), and they were less likely to use sunscreen or visit a doctor to evaluate their skin moles (25.9% vs. 14.5%). Elderly patients preferred television as the main source of information, and only 68.4% of patients from Group B were using smart devices. There was a significantly higher physical score on the SF-12 scale among Group A patients, although patients from Group B scored higher in the mental health assessment, and the perceived helplessness on the PSS-10 scale was significantly higher compared to younger adults with melanoma (2.97 vs. 2.71, p-value = 0.036). Lower scores on the physical and mental SF-12 questionnaire determined a higher presence of depressive symptoms (rho = −0.352, respectively rho = −0.273). Higher scores on the DLQI sexual difficulties and treatment difficulties also correlated significantly with the presence of depressive symptoms and anhedonia (rho = 0.341, respectively rho = 0.264). Awareness campaigns for malignant melanoma should focus on the elderly population, too, using the television as the main communication channel. On the other hand, the more informed and knowledgeable group of adults younger than 65 are more likely to experience psychological problems and should be targeted for psycho-oncological aid. Full article
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10 pages, 253 KiB  
Article
Personality Traits and Urinary Symptoms Are Associated with Mental Health Distress in Patients with a Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
by Charles Gillis, Gabriela Ilie, Ross Mason, Gregory Bailly, Joseph Lawen, David Bowes, Nikhilesh Patil, Derek Wilke, Robert David Harold Rutledge, David Bell and Ricardo Rendon
Curr. Oncol. 2021, 28(4), 2993-3002; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28040262 - 6 Aug 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2916
Abstract
Objective: With a prolonged natural history compared with many other cancers, prostate cancer patients have high rates of mental illness over the duration of their treatment. Here, we examine the relationship between personality and mental health distress in a sample of prostate cancer [...] Read more.
Objective: With a prolonged natural history compared with many other cancers, prostate cancer patients have high rates of mental illness over the duration of their treatment. Here, we examine the relationship between personality and mental health distress in a sample of prostate cancer patients. Methods: This study was conducted in the Canadian Maritime provinces, where a cohort of 189 men with prostate cancer were invited to complete a quality-of-life online survey between May 2017 and December 2019. The presence or absence of screening positive for mental health illness was the primary outcome and was assessed using Kessler’s 10-item scale (K10). Urinary symptoms were assessed using the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). The ten-item personality inventory (TIPI) assessed extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability (or neuroticism), and openness to experiences. A multivariate logistic regression model was created to examine the association between personality, urinary symptoms, and mental health distress, while controlling for time from diagnosis, treatment type, age, and multimorbidity. Results: Screening positive for mental illness (18.0%) was associated with personality traits of low levels of emotional stability (OR = 0.07, 95% CI: 0.03–0.20) and moderate to severe urinary problems (OR = 5.21, 95% CI: 1.94–14.05)). There was no identified association between treatment received for prostate cancer and personality type. Conclusion: Screening for mental health illness in this population may help reduce morbidity associated with cancer treatment, as well as identify patients who may be at risk of mental health distress and could benefit from individualized mental health support services. These findings suggest that multidisciplinary care is essential for the management of these patients. Full article

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9 pages, 450 KiB  
Brief Report
Acceptance of Psycho-Oncological Counseling Formats in a Cancer Counseling Center during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Exploratory Care Study
by Jacqueline Lohmiller, Norbert Schäffeler, Heike Sütterlin, Stephan Zipfel and Andreas Stengel
Curr. Oncol. 2021, 28(5), 3795-3803; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28050323 - 28 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1398
Abstract
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary to change established structures of medical counseling services and quickly establish digital counseling formats to ensure continuity of care. In this context, we offered telephone and video-telephonic counseling in addition to traditional face-to-face counseling in the [...] Read more.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary to change established structures of medical counseling services and quickly establish digital counseling formats to ensure continuity of care. In this context, we offered telephone and video-telephonic counseling in addition to traditional face-to-face counseling in the office. Methods: Patients (n = 100) of the Cancer Counseling Center, Tübingen, were asked to complete a questionnaire to assess the acceptance of the counseling format following each counseling session (office, telephone, and video) in the period between July 2020 and February 2021. The questionnaire included the subject areas of patient characterization, assessment of therapeutic contact, therapeutic relationship, and hurdles and was used in this exploratory care study. Results: The satisfaction and acceptance of the three counseling formats (office, telephone, and video) were rated as “good” to “very good” in the three subgroups (range 1–6, office M = 1.2, telephone M = 1.3, video M = 1.4). Likewise, the “therapeutic relationship” achieved high ratings in terms of establishment of a therapeutic relationship in all three subgroups (office M = 5.7, telephone M = 5.0, video M = 5.0). The type of contact (office and video counseling) achieved a significant main effect on the therapeutic relationship for items such as “I believe that counseling is helping me” (F(2,97) = 4.80, p = 0.01) and “I feel that I can rely on the counselor/therapist” (F(2,97) = 3.29, p = 0.04). The “hurdles” were rated as minor and tolerable (office M = 1.3, telephone M = 1.3, video M = 1.4). Predictor analyses showed that there was no effect of age and gender on the acceptance of digital counseling formats in the present sample. Discussion and Conclusion: On the basis of this survey, it can be concluded that digital counseling formats were perceived by patients as a promising addition to the classic face-to-face setting. In addition, it can be stated that the digital formats (telephone and video) were not generally preferred to face-to-face counseling, but that the innovative telecounseling was accepted and perceived with great satisfaction and acceptance. Accordingly, the additional use of digital counseling formats could be an opportunity to enrich and expand the existing presence structures also after the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
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