A Review of the Literature on Multiple Co-occurring Symptoms in Patients With Colorectal Cancer Who Received Chemotherapy Alone or Chemotherapy With Targeted Therapies

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Abstract

Background:

Patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) rarely experience a single symptom associated with their disease and its treatment.

Objective:

Purpose of this literature review was to summarize the current state of knowledge of multiple co-occurring symptoms in CRC patients who received chemotherapy (CTX) alone or CTX with targeted therapies.

Methods:

Comprehensive literature search was conducted from 1990 to 2014. These studies were evaluated in terms of the occurrence of multiple co-occurring symptoms in CRC patients who received CTX alone or CTX with targeted therapies; the most common symptom assessment and quality of life (QOL) instruments used; and the associations identified between select demographic and treatment characteristics, QOL, and multiple co-occurring symptoms.

Results:

Only 5 studies met this review’s inclusion criteria. Two studies compared symptoms in patients who received CTX alone or CTX with targeted therapies, and only 1 study reported on symptom occurrence. Of the 5 studies identified, only 2 used the same instrument to assess symptoms, and only 2 studies evaluated for associations between demographic and treatment characteristics and symptom burden, as well as QOL outcomes.

Conclusions:

Given the larger number of patients with CRC, as well as the increased number of CRC patients who will receive targeted therapies with or without CTX, future studies need to describe the occurrence, severity, and distress of multiple co-occurring symptoms and their impact on CRC patients’ QOL.

Implications for Practice:

To deliver effective symptom management interventions, the most common, severe, and distressing symptoms that CRC patients experience need to be identified.

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