Patient perceptions on Immunotherapy, Support needs, and Medication Adherence presented at the World Conference on Lung Cancer 2021

One of the largest international gatherings of professionals in the field of lung cancer and thoracic oncology took place virtually from 8th to 14th of September 2021. We are referring to the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) World Conference on Lung Cancer where CareAcross shared valuable insights.

CareAcross presented real world evidence from cancer patients as reported through the CareAcross platform, in the form of 3 posters, including a featured poster on lung cancer patients’ perceptions on immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer: Analysis of Patients’ Awareness and Perceptions

An upside of living in our times is the vast development of the healthcare industry with ever growing learnings and new therapies emerging for previously less treatable conditions. Immunotherapy is certainly one of such advancements, implementing research results in clinical practice, and applications to the treatment of thoracic cancers.

Despite being an important, increasingly applicable treatment option, the positive effect it can have on patient outlook, and its substantial media coverage, there are still many misconceptions surrounding immunotherapy. What is more, a significant number of those who could benefit are still unclear on what exactly immunotherapy is or does.

Responses were collected through the CareAcross platform from 5,589 cancer patients on their level of awareness around immunotherapy. Focusing on responses from 1,131 lung cancer patients, their self reports revealed an alarming lack of knowledge around several aspects of immunotherapy, including mechanism of action, impact and costs.

Results revealed that:

  • 29% of patients are unsure of immunotherapy’s mechanism of action,
  • 44% of patients could not respond regarding timing of action,
  • more than 50% did not know how immunotherapy’s toxicity compares with that of targeted therapies, and 
  • 50% were not aware of immunotherapy’s costs to the healthcare system.

The study further analyses and compares the perceptions of those who have received immunotherapy vs those who have not; you can read more in the abstract.

Given immunotherapy’s growing applicability, but low understanding from patients, patient education initiatives would improve knowledge, instill confidence, reduce misconceptions, and enhance patient-clinician collaboration.

Analysis of the Support Needs of Lung Cancer Patients

Supportive care is an important part of lung cancer treatment. This study reveals the opportunities for targeted improvements in supportive care of lung cancer patients, during treatment and beyond. Despite the progress and emerging approaches of dealing with lung cancer, patients still find many of their needs (physical, emotional, financial and others) simply unmet.

Lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer patients participating in CareAcross platforms provided anonymous information on patient engagement and support. This included their key needs, sources of support and perceived effectiveness

Among the 95 lung cancer patient responses collected, the most common patient needs identified were: nutrition, side-effect management, and anxiety for scans and follow-up appointments and tests (revealing important aspects of emotional wellbeing). Surprisingly, 61% of patients reported that their needs are only partially met whereas 15% reported not getting any support at all. Among their sources of support, most patients seek support from family and friends, followed by their medical teams and online support groups. Those who included family and friends or medical team as a source of support reported higher overall satisfaction.

More details on the support needs of lung cancer patients are available in the published abstract

Patient Behaviors and Attitudes Towards Lung Cancer Medication Adherence

Adherence to medication by patients is a serious concern for health care professionals as it is critical to the management of any health condition. Patient education and engagement could potentially improve adherence levels, having a significant effect on multimorbid patients. Collection of real world data from patients is essential in order to understand and improve patient adherence. Data collected from members of the CareAcross platform demonstrate adherence is a real challenge and offer further insight into patients’ level of adherence to anticancer medications and attitudes towards adherence.

In total, 117 responses from lung cancer patients from 5 countries were collected and analysed through the CareAcross platform. Results suggest that 1 in 4 lung cancer patients have deviated from their cancer medications. Among those, most completely stopped taking at least one of their medications, while others reduced their dosage or the frequency of their medications. From those who completely stopped taking their medications, 45% did not replace them with anything else. The main reasons reported behind patients’ deviation were side-effects, or lack of effectiveness.

An encouraging finding is that patients were quite willing to inform their doctors of these deviations, presenting an opportunity for open conversation and constructive patient-clinician interaction on this critical topic.

You can read more in the published abstract

Conclusions

CareAcross has direct access to cancer patients through its online secure and private platforms. Through this access and patient engagement, it can collect patient reported data, distilling valuable information and insights. Given the importance of immunotherapy, patient support and medication adherence, we were able to target a specific subgroup of interest, that of lung cancer patients, and gather real world evidence on their perceptions, needs and attitudes around these research topics.

The valuable insights collected through the CareAcross platforms can empower researchers and commercial organisations in order to accelerate research, identify opportunities, and offer solutions.

Acknowledgements

The abstract authors would like to thank the entire CareAcross team for showing such dedication to cancer support, while of course respecting patients' anonymity and privacy as per our terms of service.

Finally, but most importantly, CareAcross is grateful to all the patients who participate in these activities and contribute to advance scientific and research knowledge.

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