Background: Limited research has investigated the specific needs of patients with advanced incurable cancer. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of perceived needs among this population. Methods: Medical specialists from two regions in New South Wales, Australia, identified patients with advanced, incurable cancer, who were estimated to have a life expectancy of <2 years and were not receiving formal palliative care. Of the 418 eligible patients, 246 (59%) consented to participate. Consenting patients completed the Needs Assessment for Advanced Cancer Patients questionnaire, which has demonstrable validity and reliability. Patients' perceived needs were assessed across the seven domains of the questionnaire: psychological, daily living, medical communication and information, symptom related, social, spiritual and financial needs. Results: Patients identified the greatest areas of need in relation to psychological and medical communication/information domains. Patients' specific needs were highest in dealing with a lack of energy and tiredness, coping with fears about the cancer spreading, and coping with frustration at not being able to do the things they used to do. Conclusion: This study indicates that patients with advanced, incurable cancer have high levels of unmet needs, especially in relation to the areas of psychological and medical communication/information needs. The data have the potential to guide the development of interventions aimed at meeting the current unmet needs of patients with advanced, incurable cancer.
British Journal of Cancer Vol. 101, Issue 5, p. 759-764