Understanding the relationship between cancer-related symptoms might lead to more personalized care and improve the patient’s experience. Researchers at the University of Surrey and University of California used network analysis to study how common symptoms experienced by cancer patients receiving chemotherapy are related. By identifying core symptoms and symptom clusters within a network, researchers hope to guide the development of symptom interventions.
For example, more than 47% of patients reported experiencing nausea. Persistent nausea can lead to other symptoms like poor nutrition and lower quality of life, and it might even lead some patients to stop treatment entirely. Interventions that target nausea might reduce other symptoms that chemotherapy patients experience, such as lack of energy and pain.
“This fresh approach will allow us to develop and test novel and more targeted interventions to decrease symptom burden in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy,” said Christine Miaskowski, lead researcher.