Symptom Monitoring and Dependent Care During Cancer Treatment in Children: Pilot Study

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Symptom monitoring by parents/caregivers of children with cancer and what the caregiver and child did to help alleviate symptoms during chemotherapy were studied. The Therapy-Related Symptom Checklist (TRSC) child version was administered to parents/caregivers of 11 children and adolescents (mean age, 10.4 years; SD, 6.1 years; range, 2-18 years; 45% were boys). The Karnofsky scale was completed by clinicians to rate the child's functional status. The TRSC child version and functional status scores were inversely related. All children experienced nausea; the most frequent symptoms reported were in TRSC subscales: fatigue, nausea, eating, fever, oropharynx, pain, and hair loss. Care strategies that helped were distraction, massage, mouth rinses, and vitamins; some reported that their child received medications for pain, nausea, and vomiting. Using complementary medicine categories, the care strategies were diet/nutrition/lifestyle change (eg, more high-fat, high-calorie foods; new foods; any food the child likes; and much sleep and rest); mind/body control (eg, play, video games, television, reading, activity puzzle, breathing exercises, relaxation methods, and prayer); manual healing method (massage and skin-to-skin contact); and biologic treatments (vitamins). The first 2 categories were the most used. Systematic assessment with a self-report checklist enables the provider to identify and prioritize (according to reported severity) those symptoms needing intervention.

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