The impact of lung cancer surgery on quality of life trajectories in patients and family caregivers

Jae Y. Kim, Virginia Sun, Dan J. Raz, Anna Cathy Williams, Rebecca Fujinami, Karen Reckamp, Marianna Koczywas, Mihaela Cristea, Arti Hurria, Betty Ferrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives Family caregivers (FCGs) play an important role in the quality of life (QOL) of lung cancer patients. FCGs experience significant psychological distress related to their caregiving role, but there is relatively little data about FCG QOL after cancer surgery. We sought to describe QOL trajectories for patients and their FCGs after lung cancer surgery. Methods This is a secondary analysis of a larger, prospective QOL study, testing the effectiveness of an interdisciplinary palliative care intervention for lung cancer patients and FCGs in a single institution. The intervention included interdisciplinary care planning and formal education sessions for both patients and FCGs. This subset analysis included patients who underwent surgery and had a matching FCG with complete QOL data (41 pairs of patients and caregivers out of 112 surgical patients). Patient QOL was assessed with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung tool. FCG QOL was assessed with the FCG version of the City of Hope QOL tool. Psychological distress was assessed using the Distress Thermometer. Results Psychological distress levels were highest for patients (3.8/10) and FCGs (5.1/10) before surgery. Distress levels decreased among patients at six (2.9/10) and 12 weeks (2.2/10, p = 0.001) later, but remained elevated among FCGs (4.2/10 and 4.4/10, p = 0.157). Compared with usual care, patients in the intervention group reported improved physical and functional QOL outcomes at 12 weeks (p < 0.01), but there was no significant benefit seen for FCGs in any domain (p > 0.05). Conclusions FCGs of lung cancer patients experience significant psychological distress. FCGs continue to have impaired QOL 3 months after surgery. The trajectory of QOL for FCGs does not mirror that of patients. Our palliative care intervention showed improved QOL outcomes for this subset of patients but was not effective for their FCGs. Trial Registration: NCI sponsored, trial identifier NCT00823667

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-39
Number of pages5
JournalLung Cancer
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Family caregiver
  • Lung cancer
  • Psychological distress
  • Quality of life
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research


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