Unmet supportive care needs are associated with worse quality of life (QOL) before and after treatment in patients with lung cancer, according to a systematic review published in the European Journal of Cancer Care

The review included data from 6 studies with a total of 562 patients. The patients’ mean age was 63.42 years, 35% were women, and 60% had stage III or IV lung cancer at diagnosis.

To measure unmet needs, researchers used the Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS) in 4 studies and the Cancer Survivors Unmet Needs Survey (CaSUN) in 1 study. In the sixth study, researchers only examined information needs. 

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The most frequent unmet needs across the studies were the need to be informed about test results, the need to receive up-to-date information, fear of cancer spreading/cancer recurrence, and a lack of energy or tiredness.

Of the 6 studies, 5 showed a negative association between QOL and unmet needs.

In one study, higher levels of need across the 5 domains of the SCNS were associated with lower overall QOL. Another study showed that unmet physical and psychological needs were independently associated with lower QOL.

In a third study, higher levels of need were associated with worse physical QOL. In a fourth study, only unmet psychological needs were negatively associated with QOL.

In the fifth study, higher levels of unmet needs across the 5 domains of the CaSUN were associated with lower global QOL.

“The findings suggest that unmet physical and psychological needs may have the most impact on QOL and reflect the high symptom burden and psychological distress associated with lung cancer,” the researchers concluded. “Further work is needed to examine these relationships to identify the services and interventions that address the range of care needs across the disease trajectory.”


Cochrane A, Woods S, Dunne S, Gallagher P. Unmet supportive care needs associated with quality of life for people with lung cancer: A systematic review of the evidence 2007-2020. Eur J Cancer Care. Published online November 2, 2021. doi:10.1111/ecc.13525