ASCPRO's mission is to make recommendations for the assessment of patient-reported cancer-related symptoms and for the use of that information to facilitate clinical research and decision making. To this end, ASCPRO develops workshops to explore the use of patient-reported outcomes to measure potential symptom reduction benefits in cancer clinical trials. Initial ASCPRO discussions led to a prioritized consensus summary of the most important cancer-related and treatment-related symptoms.

A task-force structure allows ASCPRO to focus on each symptom in turn, with an emphasis on development of conceptual models of symptom assessment, a review of complex symptoms such as fatigue and emotional distress, and consideration of measurement issues such as appropriate recall period, translation of symptom scales, selection, development and validation of new and existing scales, and validation of translations of symptom measurement scales. The first priority of each task force is to produce a position paper outlining potential recommendations and an honest list of “we don’t know the answer” issues. This position paper will aid the conceptualization and design of symptom-focused outcome measurement in cancer.

Mission Update

The measurement of cancer-related fatigue in clinical trials was chosen as the first target symptom for working group focus. The Fatigue Task Force published recommendations concerning such issues as conceptual and endpoint models of fatigue, target product profiles, the use of unidimensional versus multidimensional assessment, and how to best represent severe fatigue. The Multisymptom Task Force published recommendations on how to choose the symptoms to be assessed and how multiple individual symptom scores or composite scores of several symptoms might be used as clinical trial outcomes; consensus was reached on a definition of a multisymptom outcome, the problem of source attribution, and the need for a hypothesis-driven conceptual framework to measure multisymptom outcomes.

 

Scope

ASCPRO seeks input from the stakeholders in symptom measurement in cancer—patients, clinicians, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), academic researchers, government and industry—as we examine how to develop the measurement of symptoms as outcomes. Issues to be considered include, but are not limited to:


Patient (Self) Report

Objective measures of symptom status are only as successful their correlation with self report, because people are the only ones who know and can report their symptoms. this means that the only way that clinicians and researchers can be truly successful in estimating the symptoms of others is to ask.

People uniformly give more reliable estimates of symptom severity when given scales to report them. Thus one of ASCPRO's goals will be to identify appropriate measurement dimensions, assessment time points, and standards for symptom assessment tools.