The difficult choice of chemotherapy in patients with unresectable non- small-cell lung cancer

Marcello Tamburini, Gianfranco Buccheri, Cinzia Brunelli, Domenico Ferrigno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aims of this study were: to assess the attitude of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients to being treated with chemotherapy, determining whether and how much it differs from that expressed by patients with benign diseases or by healthy people; and to investigate how the information received about the treatment may influence the patients' decisions. A three- item self-assessment questionnaire measuring willingness to be treated with chemotherapy and presented according to three different scenarios (with an optimistic, neutral, and pessimistic physician's presentation) was administered to 104 NSCLC patients, 129 other patients with respiratory diseases (RDP), 140 health care providers (HCP) and 120 students (STU). Guttman's coefficient of reproducibility confirms the hierarchical structure of the three scenarios ranging from an optimistic to a pessimistic view. Relative to the other groups, cancer patients showed: (a) a consistently higher degree of uncertainty about whether to accept or reject chemotherapy; (b) the lowest acceptance rate in the optimistic and neutral scenario and, in contrast, the highest in the pessimistic scenario; (c) the highest percentage of constant answers, independently of the scenario presented, particularly as regards the answers 'I don't know' (NSCLC = 25%, RDP = 9%, HCP = 2%, STU = 5%) and 'Yes, I accept' (NSCLC = 29%, RDP = 31%, HCP = 19%, STU = 16%). Answer patterns differed markedly between cancer patients, the HCP, and the STU group, and in most cases the difference was statistically significant at a confidence level of 0.001. The differences between NSCLC and RDP patients were less marked, and not always statistically significant. The choice between accepting and rejecting chemotherapy is very difficult for patients with NSCLC, much more so than for healthy people, and it is often independent of the way the information is provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2000


  • Chemotherapy
  • Decision making
  • Lung cancer
  • Patient's preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Nursing(all)


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