ESMO 2016 : Impact of Cognitive Functions on Oral Cancer Therapies

The development of oral cancer drugs as a modality therapy over the last decade has highlighted the problem of non-adherence. Only cancer drugs that are taken can actually work. Contrary to what is expected, a significant share of cancer patients doesn’t take their cancer drugs as prescribed. Presented at the ESMO Congress 2016, the results of a new study by Professor Florence Joly and Dr Melanie Dos Santos of the Centre Francois Baclesse in Caen, on the “Impact of cognitive functions on oral anticancer therapies adherence” (1) highlights that cognitive disorders may be an under-estimated major parameter (notably among elderly patients).

Professor Joly explains, “The objective of this initial study was to assess the relationship between cognitive functions and oral medication adherence in order to identify the patient profiles who are more likely to be non-adherent.

“This study included patients starting a new oral therapy and half were over 70 years of age. Before starting treatment, a standardised neuropsychological test battery including an assessment of autonomy, depression and anxiety were performed. Information on socio-demographic conditions was also collected. Adherence to oral therapy was evaluated by self-assessment questionnaires and an observance sheet.”

The study concluded that working memory dysfunctions (frequently observed among elderly patients) and depression appear to be predictors of non-adherence. Focusing on cognitive functions before initiation of oral anticancer therapy is therefore relevant to identify the patient profiles more likely to fail self-management of oral anticancer therapy and therefore help clinical decision-making, particularly with elderly patients.

Due to the importance of patients adhering to cancer treatments, ESMO 2016 Congress is also devoting a Patient Advocacy Track session to the issue (2). Non-adherence to oral cancer treatments may impact the efficacy of treatment and even survival, with high costs for the patient and healthcare systems.

Focusing on intentional non-adherence, Dr Bettina Ryll, Chair of the ESMO Patient Advocacy Working Group, adds, “I believe the current concept of adherence is too narrow i.e. physicians expect patients to take their medication as prescribed and non-adherence is considered a form of disobedience. Intentional non-adherence, the patient deciding not to take medication as indicated, is actually revealing patients’ true preferences and these might simply be very different from what physicians and other stakeholders consider relevant. So instead of enforcing adherence against patients’ preferences, we need to first understand and then tackle the true reasons underlying non-adherence.”

Dr Ryll stated that oncologists needed to understand the driving factors and characteristics of patients that drive non-adherence to cancer therapies, in order to improve outcomes of those patients at risk.

  1. Abstract 1497P – Impact of cognitive functions on oral anticancer therapies adherence M. Dos Santos, M. Lange, B. Clarisse, M. Barillet, F. Joly; Caen, FR will be presented during a Poster Session on 09,10.2016 at 13:00 CEST
  2. Patient Advocacy TrackAbout the European Society for Medical Oncology

ESMO is the leading professional organisation for medical oncology. Comprising more than 13,000 oncology professionals from over 130 countries, we are the society of reference for oncology education and information. We are committed to supporting our members to develop and advance in a fast-evolving professional environment.

Founded in 1975, ESMO has European roots and a global reach: we welcome oncology professionals from around the world. We are a home for all oncology stakeholders, connecting professionals with diverse expertise and experience. Our educational and information resources support an integrated, multi-professional approach to cancer treatment. We seek to erase boundaries in cancer care as we pursue our mission across oncology, worldwide.

 

Abstract

1497P – Impact of cognitive functions on oral anticancer therapies adherence

Background

Oral anticancer therapies have now an important place in the therapeutic arsenal, but factors influencing adherence to oral treatment are poorly documented in oncology. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between cognitive functions and oral medication adherence in order to identify patient profiles that are more likely to be non-adherents, with a focus on the elderly population particularly at risk.

Methods

This prospective pilot study included patients initiating a first exclusive oral therapy. Before initiation of treatment, we performed a standardized neuropsychological test battery and an assessment of autonomy, depression and anxiety. Information on socio-demographic conditions was collected. Adherence to oral therapy was evaluated by two self-assessment questionnaires and an observance sheet at 1 and 3 months after start of treatment. We present here only the results at 1 month.

Results

Among 126 patients enrolled, 111 (88%) completed the adherence questionnaires at 1 month with an adherence rate of 90% and a median age at baseline of 70. Global cognitive impairment was observed in 50% with the Montreal Cognitive assessment (MoCA). Working memory disorders and depression were significantly associated with non-adherence: [1.38 (1.03-1.85); P= 0.0326] and [4.67 (1.11-19.59); P= 0.0352] respectively. A relationship was found between age and MoCA score and also with working memory impairement, with for both of them a higher impact above 70 years (P< 0.005).

Conclusions

Working memory dysfunctions and depression appear as predictors of non-adherence. Focusing on cognitive functions before initiation of oral anticancer therapy is therefore relevant to identify patient profiles more likely to fail self-management of oral anticancer therapy and therefore help decision-making, particularly in elderly.

Clinical trial identification
N° ID-RCB: 2011-A00907-34

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