Quality of Life in Patients Receiving Radiation Therapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Lauri D. John

quality of life, lung neoplasms, radiotherapy, adverse effects

Purpose/Objectives: To determine whether perceptions of quality of life (QOL) change over time in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who receive curative radiation therapy (XRT).

Design: Descriptive, longitudinal.

Setting: Radiotherapy clinic of a comprehensive cancer center.

Sample: 23 patients with NSCLC, selected by nonprobability, consecutive sampling, receiving curative XRT.

Methods: Subjects completed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung (FACT-L) before, during, and twice after completion of the XRT treatment course. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and a multivariate approach to analysis of variance for repeated measures.

Main Research Variable: QOL.

Findings: FACT-L scores were significantly lower during XRT than before XRT, were significantly higher one month after XRT than before or during XRT, and were not significantly different from the pretreatment level four months after XRT.

Conclusion: Perceptions of QOL change over time in patients with NSCLC receiving curative XRT. If the study findings are validated in a larger sample, nurses may be able to counsel patients with NSCLC receiving XRT. Nurses can inform patients that although QOL declines during XRT, the change is temporary because QOL will return to a level at least as high as the pretreatment level.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Nurses need to assess patients’ perceptions of QOL throughout the course of XRT and assess for sequelae of treatment that affect QOL. Nursing interventions need to be developed and implemented to more effectively manage treatment sequelae and maintain QOL in patients with NSCLC while they receive curative XRT.

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