Dr Thomas Küchler and colleagues from Germany assessed the impact of psychotherapeutic support on survival for patients with gastrointestinal cancer undergoing surgery.
The team of doctors conducted a randomized controlled trial in cooperation with the Departments of General Surgery and Medical Psychology, University Hospital of Hamburg, Germany, from 1991 to 1993.
The doctors undertook a 10-year follow-up analysis.
The team evaluated 271 consenting patients with a preliminary diagnosis of cancer of the esophagus, stomach, liver/gallbladder, pancreas, or colon/rectum.
The patients were stratified by sex and randomly assigned to a control group that received standard care as provided on the surgical wards.
|Doctors demonstrated better survival for the experimental than the control group |
|Journal of Clinical Oncology|
The experimental group received formal psychotherapeutic support in addition to routine care during the hospital stay.
The team of doctors determined survival status for all patients from internal hospital records and from 3 external sources.
The external resources included the Hamburg cancer registry, family doctors, and the general citizen registration offices.
The team used Kaplan-Meier survival curves to demonstrate better survival for the experimental group than the control group.
Cox regression models that took tumor node metastases staging or the residual tumor classification and tumor site into account also found differences at 10 years.
The doctors undertook secondary analyses and found that differences in favor of the experimental group occurred in patients with stomach, pancreatic, primary liver, or colorectal cancer.
Dr Küchler's team commented, "The results of this study indicate that patients with gastrointestinal cancer, who undergo surgery for stomach, pancreatic, primary liver, or colorectal cancer, benefit from a formal program of psychotherapeutic support during the inpatient hospital stay in terms of long-term survival."