National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine
State Institution "The National Research Center for Radiation Medicine"

ISSN 2313-4607 (Online)
ISSN 2304-8336 (Print)

Problems of Radiation Medicine and Radiobiology



M. V. Krasnoselskyi, O. O. Kyrylova, T. V. Rublova, A. V. Svynarenko, S. V. Artiukh

SE źGrigoriev Institute for Medical Radiology and Oncology of the National Academy of Medical
Sciences of Ukraine╗, 82 Pushkinska St., Kharkiv 61024, Ukraine


Radiation therapy (RT) is the main type of antitumor treatment in inoperable patients. Low awareness and fear of the development of radiation reactions contributes to the destabilization of psycho-emotional state of patients, which can result in withdrawal from treatment and deterioration of their quality of life (QOL). Despite a steady increase in cancer rates in Ukraine, there are currently no studies to develop measures to improve psychological condition of patients undergoing treatment in radiation therapy departments.
Objective: to assess the dynamics of psycho-emotional status and QOL of cancer patients at the stage of radiation therapy.
Materials and methods. The study involved psychodiagnostic examination of 66 cancer patients who underwent radiation treatment in the clinic of the State Organization źGrigoriev Institute for Medical Radiology and Oncology of the NAMS of Ukraine╗, of whom Group 1 included 44 patients with head and neck cancer, Group 2 comprised 22 patients with colorectal cancer. Comparison group comprised 30 conditionally źhealthy╗ respondents without cancer. All patients had stage IIIľIV cancer. The study implied the employment of źDistress Thermometer╗, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and the SF-36 Questionnaire (Short Form). The examination was performed before and following the course of radiation therapy. Group 1 patients underwent only psychodiagnostic examination, Group 2 patients apart from psychodiagnostic were accompanied by a psychologist before undergoing radiation procedures. In the comparison group, the survey was conducted once.
Results and discussion. Assessment of the data showed that before the start of RT most subjects (72.73 % in Group 1 and 77.3 % in Group 2) had a high level of distress, they were worried and nervous before the first radiation procedure, had fears about the consequences and side effects. The level of anxiety in Group 1 at the pathological and subclinical level was recorded in 54.55 % of patients, the rate of depression at the subclinical level was diagnosed in 18.20 %, and in 9.10 % of patients at the clinical one. In Group 2, the level of anxiety that exceeded the norm was recorded significantly less often (27.25 % vs. 54.55 %, pt ≤ 0.05), and the rate of depression at the subclinical level was diagnosed significantly more often than in Group 1 (54.50 % vs. 18.20 %, pt ≤ 0.05), and in 18.2 % of patients at the clinical level. After radiation, 81.81 % of Group 1 patients showed an increase in distress and anxiety, and depressive symptoms tended to worsen. The level of distress in Group 2 after consulting a psychologist in preparation for RT and undergoing radiation procedures decreased almost twice, the level of anxiety decreased to normal, the indicators of depressive symptoms remained unchanged. According to QOL assessments on the scales of physical and role functioning (PF and RP), general health (GH) and mental health (MH), patients in both groups had significantly lower scores before the RT than in the comparison groups. After the procedures, there was a significant deterioration in the RP scale in Group 1 (18.75 vs. 40.00, pt ≤ 0.05), and an improvement of almost 2 times in Group 2 (35.73 vs. 68.33, pt ≤ 0.06). The indicator of general health (GH) at the end of RT in Group 1 did not change, and in Group 2 it tended to improve (20.93 vs. 47.26, pt ≤ 0.06). Life expectancy (LE) in Group 1 tended to decrease further after treatment, having increased 1.7 times in Group 2.0
Conclusions. The study showed that cancer patients before the onset of RT experienced a rather strong distress and level of anxiety. Psychological correction of the emotional state at the beginning of treatment allowed for a significant improvement in the QOL of patients on the scales of role physical functioning (RF) and vitality (VT). An important area of work of a clinical psychologist at this stage of treatment involved correction of cognitive sphere, support of role functioning and formation of behavior aimed at further treatment.
Key words: oncology, radiation therapy, quality of life, psychological stress, distress, patients with colorectal cancer, patients with head and neck cancer.

Problems of Radiation Medicine and Radiobiology.
2022;27:353-362. doi: 10.33145/2304-8336-2022-27-353-362

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