The following article features coverage from the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

A Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) study reported that symptom monitoring by integrating electronic patient-reported outcomes (PRO) into clinical practice vs usual care extended overall survival (OS) by more than 5 months.1

These data were presented at the Late Breaking Session at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago by Ethan Basch MD, MSc, from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Dr Basch was practicing at MSKCC when the study was conducted.

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This randomized study recruited patients initiating routine chemotherapy for metastatic solid tumors. Patients were randomly assigned to a usual care group or the PRO group. Patients in the PRO group self-reported 12 common symptoms from the National Cancer Institute’s Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events at each visit and between visits via a web-based PRO questionnaire.

Participation was continued until cancer treatment was stopped. 

A patient-reported adverse event alerted an email to the nurse in charge. Symptom burden history was generated at each visit with the oncologist. Patients in the usual care group discussed symptoms at each visit and could contact the office between visits.

The study enrolled 766 patients between September 2007 and January 2011. OS was assessed in June 2016 after 517 patients had died (67%).

Median follow up was 7 years. Median OS was 31.2 months for patients in the PRO group and 26 months for the usual care group (P = .03).

“The improvement in survival we saw may seem modest, but it is greater than the effect of many targeted cancer drugs for metastatic cancer,” Dr Basch said in an ASCO press release.

In the study, nurses responded to symptom alerts 77% of the time with symptom management, counseling, supportive medications, chemotherapy dose modifications, and referrals.

RELATED: Electronic Intervention May Reduce Time to Diagnostic Evaluation

“Integration of patient-reported symptoms into care for metastatic cancer is associated with meaningful benefits and the approach should be considered for inclusion as part of standard symptom management in oncology,” Dr Basch concluded.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Basch EM, Deal AM, Dueck A, et al. Overall survival results of a randomized trial assessing patient-reported outcomes for symptom monitoring during routine cancer treatment. J Clin Oncol. 2017;34(suppl; abstr LBA2).