Exploring the Symptomatology of Adults With Acute Leukemia
Albrecht, Tara Angela
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Session presented on Friday, July 22, 2016: Advances in treatment of acute leukemia have improved and prolonged survival. However, these treatments are aggressive and associated with significant toxicity, symptoms, and lengthy hospitalizations, which are thought to negatively impact the patients' health-related quality of life. The diagnosis of acute leukemia has far-reaching effects not only on the patient but also their family system. These effects include changes to family roles, schedules, and financial strains are just some of the stressful challenges that the family system may experience. This increased stress for both the patient and the family system is thought to stimulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis causing release of proinflammatory cytokines. For the patient evidence suggests that this activation of inflammatory cascade can lead to epigenetic modifications that contribute to persistent symptoms and reduced health-related quality of life. For the family member this activation has been found to lead to a decreased quality of life and psychological wellbeing, and ultimately places the family member at an increased risk of developing such co-morbid conditions as cardiovascular disease. However, there has been very limited research focused on symptoms, biological signatures, health-related quality of life or the family system in this unique population. Since entering the clinical setting as an oncology nurse, my work has focused on the identification, understanding, and management of bothersome symptoms experienced by individuals undergoing treatment for cancer, with a large focus in those with acute leukemia. Specifically, this work has included numerous descriptive as well as pilot intervention studies. In this session I will review findings from several of my studies that have explored the symptom experience of patients with acute leukemia. I will also discuss preliminary findings from a study that examined the patient-family dyad in individuals undergoing induction chemotherapy treatment for acute leukemia. This session will provide an overview of the current state of the science as well as future directions in this unique and understudied population.