A Comparison of Patient- and Clinician-Reported Acute Toxic Effects During Radiation Therapy for Primary Breast Cancer

Kaitlyn Lapen, Caroline King, Lior Z. Braunstein, Atif J. Khan, Mitchell R. Kamrava, Erin F. Gillespie, Kiri A. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Evidence suggests that cancer treatment–related toxic effects are underreported by clinicians. We sought to compare patient- and clinician-reported acute toxic effects among patients undergoing radiation therapy for primary breast cancer and to determine factors associated with patient-clinician discordance. Methods and Materials: Patient responses from a weekly Patient-Reported Outcomes version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events based assessment were matched to clinician assessments of acute toxic effects during treatment. Weighted κ statistics were used to evaluate agreement between patient and clinician assessments. Linear regression, logistic regression, and generalized estimating equation models were used to identify covariates associated with discordance. Results: Overall, 842 patient-clinician assessment pairs from 376 unique patients were analyzed. Total symptom burden score was higher for patients than clinicians (4.7 vs 2.3, P <.01). Dermatitis, pruritis, pain, and edema items were classified as having minimal agreement (κ of 0.25, 0.23, 0.20, and 0.25, respectively). Fatigue (κ 0.17) and psychosocial (0.03) patient-clinician pairs were found to have no agreement. The linear regression demonstrated that assessments by patients who identified as Black or African American were associated with a 0.13-point decrease in discordance (95% confidence interval, –0.25 to –0.01), while time from the start of treatment was associated with increased discordance (95% confidence interval, 0.07-0.12). Conclusions: For patients undergoing breast radiation therapy, discordance in patient and clinician symptom reporting is high and increases as treatment progresses. The mechanism of reduced discordance among Black or African American patients warrants further investigation. Prospective studies are needed to determine whether interventions for lower severity symptoms, which are commonly overlooked by clinicians, can reduce symptom burden and improve patient quality of life during radiation therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-309
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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