Results of a survey study examining awareness and attitudes of health care providers regarding permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia (PCIA) revealed that dermatologists were more familiar with this condition than either oncology or primary care/internal medicine providers. The findings from this study were published in Supportive Care in Cancer.

Reports of PCIA, defined as absent or incomplete hair regrowth that persists for 6 months or longer after termination of chemotherapy, are becoming more common. Nevertheless, information about diagnostic and management approaches to this condition undertaken by dermatology and oncology clinicians, as well as practitioners in the field of primary care/internal medicine, is limited.

In this study, a 25-question, 2-part survey was administered to nurse practitioners and physicians practicing in the fields of dermatology, oncology, and primary care/internal medicine at a large urban health care system in the Midwest. Demographic information and knowledge of PCIA were assessed in part 1 of the survey, whereas the second part of the survey included the definition of PCIA and evaluated attitudes regarding its management.

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Of 487 health care providers invited to participate in the study, the overall response rate was 13% (n=62). Study participants included 48 physicians and 14 nurse practitioners, of whom 19, 20, and 23 practiced in dermatology, oncology, and primary care/internal medicine, respectively.

Some of the key study findings were as follows:

  • The correct definition of PCIA was given by 45%, 42%, and 17% of oncology, dermatology, and primary medicine/internal medicine clinicians, respectively, and this difference was significant when oncology and primary medicine/internal medicine clinicians were compared (P =.043).
  • Approximately half of oncology and dermatology clinicians reported a prior encounter with a patient with PCIA, but only 18% of primary care/internal medicine clinicians reported such an encounter.
  • Although 56% of dermatology clinicians reported that they had treated a patient with PCIA, survey responses of oncology and primary care/internal medicine clinicians indicated that they had not attempted such treatment.
  • Confidence in diagnosing and managing PCIA, as well as confidence in personal knowledge about the condition, was significantly higher for dermatology clinicians compared with the other 2 specialties (P <.0001).

In their concluding remarks, the study authors noted that “the results of this survey highlight the opportunity for further education across three disciplines that may regularly participate in supportive care of cancer patients. Improved knowledge of the condition may promote efficient diagnosis and referral with the ultimate goal of developing effective PCIA treatment strategies to improve survivorship care.”

Reference

Stoehr  JR, Kosche  C, Choi JN, et al. Permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia: Awareness and attitudes among health care providers [published online November 19, 2019]. Support Care Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-05169-2

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor