Patients' and doctors' perception of long-term morbidity in patients with testicular cancer clinical stage I
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Patient-based questionnaires were designed with the aim to identify and rank long-term somatic and psychosocial morbidity in patients with low-stage testicular cancer. A further intention was to compare patients' assessments with experienced doctors' general opinion on quality of life items in cured testicular cancer patients. In pilot study I, 103 tumour-free patients ranked items of physical and psychosocial morbidity after having had various kinds of treatment. Though the ranking procedure appeared to cause some difficulties amongst the patients and subsequently was abandoned, the results indicated considerable differences between the patients' and doctors' evaluations. In pilot study II patients were asked to score the different items. The questionnaire of pilot study II was completed by 107 patients from the Norwegian Radium Hospital (NRH) and 99 relapse-free patients from the Royal Marsden Hospital (RMH) with testicular cancer stage I at least 1 year after infradiaphragmatic radiotherapy (n = 94) or adjuvant chemotherapy (2 cycles,n=26), or patients who had been followed on the surveillance program (n = 86). A total of 93 doctors completed a similar questionnaire, thereby expressing their general opinion on long-term morbidity in comparable testicular cancer patients as seen during routine clinical follow-up. Both the irradiated patients and those on the surveillance program reported slight degrees of Raynaud-like phenomena, neurotoxicity and ototoxicity, most probably representing “background morbidity” in an age-matched general male population. Doctors tended to underestimate their patients' somatic morbidity, but often overestimated the degree of psychological distress, in particular in patients on the surveillance program. Significant differences between RMH and NRH patients with regard to sexual problems and to leisure time activity may be explained by cultural differences in the two countries. The items presented in the questionnaire used identify important issues for patients cured of testicular cancer which may be used in future multicentre trans-cultural studies assessing these patients' quality of life. This will provide sufficient data for psychometric testing and, together with the findings from patients' free comments, support the final design of a testicular cancer quality of life module.
Key wordsTesticular cancer stage I Long-term psychosocial and physical morbidity Doctors' and patients' assessment
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