Study Shows Need for Early Supportive Care in Patients Diagnosed With Uveal Melanoma

Key Points

  • The proportions of unmet needs among people with newly diagnosed uveal melanoma were higher than those reported by patients with other cancers.
  • The high level of needs—more than patients diagnosed with prostate and breast cancer—suggests that health-care providers need to proactively screen for these concerns among newly diagnosed uveal melanoma patients.
  • Having tangible support prior to diagnosis was related to less severe needs shortly after diagnosis. In addition, having a smaller social network was associated with reduced need severity among patients.

In a study published by Williamson et al in JAMA Ophthalmology, University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) researchers found that nearly all patients diagnosed with uveal melanoma had a number of unmet psychological and health information needs, particularly during the first 3 months after their diagnoses.

The study is the first prospective, longitudinal approach to examine supportive care needs among patients with this disease and suggested more acute needs among people with uveal melanoma than people with other cancers. Social and psychological circumstances—such as personality factors, social support, and social network size—contributed to the severity of these needs more so than demographic backgrounds or medical characteristics.

Study Background

Uveal melanoma affects about 2,500 adults in the United States each year, making it the most common primary intraocular cancer among adults. Its cause is unknown, although some studies have linked it to lighter eye color. Like other patients with cancer, people diagnosed with uveal melanoma have often expressed various needs, including desires to learn more about their diagnosis and how to cope with uncertainty about their disease.

The researchers recruited patients who were scheduled to receive a diagnosis for unspecific intraocular disorders at UCLA Stein Eye Institute. Ultimately, 107 people diagnosed with uveal melanoma participated in the study. At 1 week and 3 months after diagnosis, patients completed surveys about their unmet needs. The researchers used a number of statistical applications to determine patients’ unmet supportive care needs and characterize their predictors.   

Findings

The proportions of unmet needs among people with newly diagnosed uveal melanoma were higher than those reported by patients.

According to the investigators, the study indicated that patients with uveal melanoma need to have specific psychological and informational issues addressed, particularly at the point of and shortly after diagnosis. The high level of needs—more than patients diagnosed with prostate and breast cancer—suggests that health-care providers need to proactively screen for these concerns among newly diagnosed uveal melanoma patients.

Having tangible support prior to diagnosis was related to less severe needs shortly after diagnosis. In addition, having a smaller social network was associated with reduced need severity among patients—which may be related to larger networks offering conflicting or overwhelming advice, where smaller networks may provide well-coordinated or higher-quality support during a stressful life event.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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