Special Issue "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: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Gabriela Ilie
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, 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
Dr. Rob Rutledge
E-Mail Website
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 papers will be 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 semimonthly 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 1600 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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Article
Psychosocial and Functional Predictors of Mental Disorder among Prostate Cancer Survivors: Informing Survivorship Care Programs with Evidence-Based Knowledge
Curr. Oncol. 2021, 28(5), 3918-3931; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28050334 - 03 Oct 2021
Viewed by 680
Abstract
Recent research has revealed that prostate cancer (PCa) survivors are facing a silent epidemic of mental disorder. These findings are not surprising when the side effects of highly effective current treatment modalities are considered. Here, we assess the association between urinary function and [...] Read more.
Recent research has revealed that prostate cancer (PCa) survivors are facing a silent epidemic of mental disorder. These findings are not surprising when the side effects of highly effective current treatment modalities are considered. Here, we assess the association between urinary function and quality of life indicators to mental disorder among survivors of PCa. This is a cross sectional examination of an analytical sample of 362 men with a history of PCa residing in the Maritimes who took a survey assessing social, physical and health-related quality of life indicators between 2017 and 2021. Mental disorder was assessed using Kessler’s Psychological Distress Scale (K-10). Predictor variables included emotional, functional, social/family and spiritual well-being, measured by Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Prostate (FACT-P), and urinary function was measured by International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). Multivariate logistic regression analysis evaluated the contribution of predictors while controlling for age, income, survivorship time (months) since diagnosis, relationship status and treatment modality. Mental disorder was identified among 15.8% of PCa survivors in this sample. High emotional (aOR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.69–0.96) and spiritual well-being (aOR = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.81–0.96) were protective factors against mental disorder. Men who screened positive for moderate to severe urinary tract symptoms had three times higher odds (aOR = 3.02, 95% CI: 1.10, 8.32) of screening positive for mental disorder. Men who were on active surveillance or radical prostatectomy with or without added treatment had higher (aOR = 5.87, 95% CI: 1.32–26.13 or aOR = 4.21, 95% CI: 1.07–16.51, respectively) odds of screening positive for mental disorder compared to men who received radiation treatment with or without hormonal therapy for their PCa diagnosis. Unmet emotional and spiritual needs, increased urinary problems and some forms of treatment (e.g., active surveillance or surgery) were associated with mental disorder among PCa survivors. The development of survivorship care programs and support systems that focus on the long-term effects of PCa treatments and the consequences of unmet psychosocial needs of patients during the survivorship journey are critically needed. Full article
Article
Treatment Regret, Mental and Physical Health Indicators of Psychosocial Well-Being among Prostate Cancer Survivors
Curr. Oncol. 2021, 28(5), 3900-3917; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28050333 - 02 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 540
Abstract
Prostate cancer (PCa) patients and survivors are at high risk of mental health illness. Here, we examined the contribution of treatment regret, mental and physical health indicators to the social/family, emotional, functional and spiritual well-being of PCa survivors. The study assessed 367 men [...] Read more.
Prostate cancer (PCa) patients and survivors are at high risk of mental health illness. Here, we examined the contribution of treatment regret, mental and physical health indicators to the social/family, emotional, functional and spiritual well-being of PCa survivors. The study assessed 367 men with a history of PCa residing in the Maritimes Canada who were surveyed between 2017 and 2021. The outcomes were social/family, emotional, functional and spiritual well-being (FACT-P,FACIT-Sp). Predictor variables included urinary, bowel and sexual function (UCLA-PCI), physical and mental health (SF-12), and treatment regret. Logistic regression analyses were controlled for age, income, and survivorship time. Poor social/family, emotional, functional and spiritual well-being was identified among 54.4%, 26.5%, 49.9% and 63.8% of the men in the sample. Men who reported treatment regret had 3.62, 5.58, or 4.63 higher odds of poor social/family, emotional, and functional well-being, respectively. Men with low household income had 3.77 times higher odds for poor social/well-being. Good mental health was a protective factor for poor social/family, emotional, functional, or spiritual well-being. Better physical and sexual health were protective factors for poor functional well-being. Seeking to promote PCa patients’ autonomy in treatment decisions and recognizing this process’ vulnerability in health care contexts is warranted. Full article
Article
Personality Traits and Urinary Symptoms Are Associated with Mental Health Distress in Patients with a Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer
Curr. Oncol. 2021, 28(4), 2993-3002; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28040262 - 06 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 866
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
Article
Post-Treatment Adverse Health Correlates among Prostate Cancer Survivors in a Sample of Men Residing in Atlantic Canada
Curr. Oncol. 2021, 28(4), 2812-2822; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28040246 - 25 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 967
Abstract
Background: Recent large population-based studies have shed light on an association between prostate cancer (PCa) survivorship and mental health, which emerged when the comparison group was either men without a history of cancer or those with any other type of cancer except prostate. [...] Read more.
Background: Recent large population-based studies have shed light on an association between prostate cancer (PCa) survivorship and mental health, which emerged when the comparison group was either men without a history of cancer or those with any other type of cancer except prostate. Here we examine the role of surgery alone, compared to other types of treatment modalities in this association in a population-based sample of men with prostate or other types of cancer. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted on a subsample of 632 male participants aged 36–69 from the 2009–2015 survey cycle of the Atlantic PATH cohort study. The primary outcomes were the presence of mild, moderate or severe depression or anxiety indicators and were assessed using the seven-item generalized anxiety disorder (GAD-7) scale and the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), respectively. The presence of a lifetime history of PCa or other form of cancer (except PCa) was the main predictor variable and was assessed in cancer treatment modality (surgery or other types of treatment modalities) stratified analyses. Covariates included age, marital status, household income, comorbidity, and survivorship time. Results: The presence of depression in this sample was prevalent among 17.7% of men, and of anxiety among 9.3% of men. Survivors who were treated with surgery for their PCa diagnosis had 7.55 statistically significantly higher odds of screening positive for current depression symptoms compared with those of other forms of cancer in controlled analyses. These differences were not observed for anxiety. Conclusions: These findings emphasize the need for multidisciplinary survivorship care plans among PCa patients, especially those who undergo surgery. Targeted programming aimed at prioritizing and delivering comprehensive mental health support to PCa survivors early in the survivorship journey is justified. Full article

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Brief Report
Acceptance of Psycho-Oncological Counseling Formats in a Cancer Counseling Center during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Exploratory Care Study
Curr. Oncol. 2021, 28(5), 3795-3803; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28050323 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 429
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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