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27 December 2015

Patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer frequently experience side effects. These are normally recorded by physicians and nurses using standardized scoring systems. In a study reported in JAMA Oncology, researchers compared these physician-reported adverse effects with patient-reported side effects and toxicity.

They found that physicians and nurses frequently under-estimated the frequency and severity of treatment-related side effects. In the article and an accompanying editorial, there is the call for more research on how to incorporate patient reported outcomes into existing electronic records, as well as more investigation regarding patient and physician reporting discrepancies. In the meantime, patients should report all apparent treatment related side effects to their oncology treatment team. While many chemotherapy related side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and weakness are common, do not suffer in silence. Managing side effects is an essential part of cancer therapy.