Psychological Effects of Ovarian Cancer Often Overlooked and Can Have a Significant Impact on Patients

  • 79% of patients felt uncomfortable raising psychological and emotional concerns during their consultations1
  • Disease recurrence is of greatest concern for ovarian cancer patients, but poorly addressed, with 53% of patients saying symptoms of recurrence have not been discussed with them2
  • TESARO-sponsored literature review unveiled on World Ovarian Cancer Day as part of the expansion of TESARO’s Our Way Forward program from U.S. to Europe, backed by committed patient advocacy organization partners

TESARO, Inc., an oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company, today announced results from a TESARO-sponsored Europe-wide literature review examining the views of both patients and physicians on the communication and treatment needs in the care of women with ovarian cancer. The comprehensive review confirms that the psychosocial effects of ovarian cancer play a significant part in a woman’s quality of life.  The review, ‘Our Way Forward – Ovarian Cancer in Europe’ draws data from approximately 65 publications and patient surveys, spanning the last 15 years.

The ‘Our Way Forward – Ovarian Cancer in Europe’ literature review is part of TESARO’s commitment to ovarian cancer as exemplified by the Our Way Forward program, an initiative that was launched in the U.S. last year.  The review is the first step towards supporting the development of patient-focused information tools and bringing the debate in ovarian cancer higher up the medical and political agenda. The review was conducted with guidance and input from European and global patient advocacy organizations, with support by TESARO, under its Our Way Forward program. Our Way Forward was created by TESARO, Inc. with input from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA). The program was launched in June of 2017 and is a call-to-action for ovarian cancer patients, their loved ones and healthcare providers to rethink how they talk about advanced ovarian cancer and ways to partner together to navigate the physical and emotional challenges that the disease brings.

Orlando Oliveira, Senior Vice President and General Manager, TESARO International, explains “TESARO is committed to offering resources to educate, empower and support those affected by ovarian cancer. There is clearly a need for better information and enhanced dialogue around the care of women with ovarian cancer in Europe, as well as new treatments that don’t impair quality of life. Through Our Way Forward and strong collaboration with the patient advocacy community, we aim to help support women with ovarian cancer to speak out and bring their needs to the attention of those that can make a difference, so both their psychological and physical needs can be met, every step of the way.”

According to the findings from the literature review, ovarian cancer is frequently diagnosed late,3 leading to urgency in treatment and little time for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to consider the psychological aspects of care.4  The psychological impact of cancer can have a significant impact on treatment outcomes as 80% of women experienced poor mental health2 and patients with depression and anxiety are at a significantly greater risk of mortality, hospitalization and poorer treatment outcomes.5

Despite this, women feel they receive information about the tangible and practical aspects of treatment, but much less so for the psychosocial aspects of the disease and how to cope.4  Women are also less likely to bring the topic up with their HCPs as most women feel uncomfortable raising psychological and emotional concerns during their appointment as they are concerned about taking up too much time.1  As a result, women with ovarian cancer feel isolated, with little support, and feel the need for more information.4

Elisabeth Baugh, Chair, World Ovarian Cancer Coalition, explains that “As the leading global ovarian cancer patient advocacy organization, the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition is pleased to support the release today of this important research undertaken as part of TESARO’s Our Way Forward program. The focus of this work on improving both physical and psychological outcomes for women with ovarian cancer, in Europe and around the world is welcomed, especially as it complements our own World Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s Every Woman Study findings. As we celebrate World Ovarian Cancer Day 2018, the Coalition is pleased to work with all partners on this important day to highlight the struggles that ovarian cancer patients face.”

The review also revealed that the ovarian cancer patient journey is fragmented and unpredictable, leading to considerable fear for disease recurrence.  Ovarian cancer recurs in approximately 85% of women with advanced ovarian cancer6 and this is at the very top of mind for ovarian cancer survivors.  The review also revealed women with recurrent ovarian cancer are not receiving the same level of support as those who are newly diagnosed, with one study showing that for 53% of patients, no one had discussed symptoms of recurrence, and 63% of nurses claim they don’t have the time do so.2

Recurrence of ovarian cancer also takes a psychological toll with 60% of women with recurrence reporting they can do less than they wanted to do because of their emotional status (versus 16% of women without recurrence) and 66% of women with recurrence reporting having trouble concentrating (versus 26% of women without recurrence).7

An important psychological aspect of treatment in relation to allaying fears of recurrence is a discussion around treatment options.  Patients need to make a critical trade-off between efficacy and quality of life.  This, however, is often under-addressed by their healthcare team.  The review revealed that 86% of patients said they would be willing to try a drug that could improve the quality of their life even if it may not prolong it.8

This is the first phase of the ‘Our Way Forward – Ovarian Cancer in Europe’ review, with a second-phase review of the literature planned with healthcare providers to provide a 360-degree picture of the current treatment journey.  The full review will offer fresh insights that will support advocacy groups in amplifying the voice of women with ovarian cancer by helping in the development of resources and tools for these women.

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Editor in Chief: Wanda Rich

Editor in Chief: Wanda Rich

Wanda has over 20 years of experience in the Financial industry. She is an avid reader and a strong supporter of CSR and community outreach activities with a unique perspective of how financial institutions work.
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