Sunday 25 April 2010

Health-Related Quality of Life in Children with Cancer

Historically, outcomes of children with cancer has been measured in terms of mortality, relapses and survival. As these QUANTITATIVE measures of life have improved in resource-rich countries, measurement of QUALITY OF LIFE (QOL) has become standard practice. For various reasons, resource-poor countries including India have under-used and under-reported these outcomes (Ref - Pandey, Psycho-Oncology, June 2004).

A recent paper reports health-related QOL outcomes in children with cancer from a physicians perspective (Ref - Chirivella et al, Indian J Pediatrics, Dec 2009). 45 patients and their physicians were recruited from two centres in Hyderabad. Using questionnaires, the physicians were interviewed for their assessment of the various HRQOL domains (sensation, vision, hearing, speech, mobility, dexterity, emotion, cognition, self-care, pain). Although its primary objective was a feasibility study, it does show an interesting (and not unexpected) observation of the pain domain having one of the lowest and most variable scores. This is in line with the recent report by Human Rights Watch which found that pain relief during palliation was sub-optimal in India.

A brief search of Medline did not reveal any other articles from India looking at health-related QOL in children with cancer. The efforts of the authors of this paper is laudable in this context. I wonder how the authors propose to progress from here?

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