Background: A holistic needs assessment is recommended in people with cancer at key stages, including soon after diagnosis. For people with thoracic cancer, there is a lack of data obtained routinely at this time point.
Objective: To identify the most common and/or distressing supportive and palliative needs present soon after diagnosis using a specifically developed questionnaire.
Methods: As part of a local rehabilitation service, patients within 3–6 weeks of a diagnosis of thoracic cancer were invited to complete the SPARC© questionnaire.
Results: Over a 26 month period, 738 patients completed the questionnaire, representing about 70% of all patients diagnosed with thoracic cancer during this time. Respondents had a median [IQR] of 15 [11‒21] symptoms or issues, with 2 [0‒5], 4 [2‒7] and 7 [5‒11] causing ‘very much’, ‘quite a bit’ and ‘a little’ distress or bother respectively. The top five most frequent needs causing any degree of distress or bother were physical, present in 68–80% of patients: feeling tired, shortness of breath, cough, feeling sleepy in the day, changes in weight. Two psychological issues followed: worrying about effects of the illness on others, feeling anxious, both present in 67%. Despite most patients reporting talking to health professionals about their condition, 20–30% wanted further information.
Conclusions: These findings represent the largest cohort of patients with thoracic cancer completing the SPARC© questionnaire soon after diagnosis, and provide detailed information on the high level of need that thoracic oncology services must be able to respond to.