An evaluation of concordance between head and neck advanced practice radiation therapist and radiation oncologists in toxicity assessment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients
Background: Weekly toxicity assessments for patients undergoing head and neck (HN) radiotherapy are essential to ensure that acute side effects are appropriately managed in order for patients to complete their treatment in a safe and timely manner. The incorporation of Advanced Practice Radiation Therapist (APRT) led treatment reviews has been reported for various subsites, but there is currently a lack of published literature regarding this role for patients with HN cancer. The purpose of this study is to assess the concordance of toxicity assessments performed during weekly radiotherapy treatment reviews for patients undergoing HN radiotherapy between the HN APRT and Radiation Oncologist (RO).
Methods: Twenty-three patients with nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) under the care of 3 ROs were recruited from June to December 2018; weekly assessments were independently performed by HN APRT and ROs. The HN toxicity assessment was graded according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Advanced Events v4.0. Both assessors were blinded to each other’s assessments. The percentage agreement of concordance and agreement level were interpreted by Cohen’s Kappa statistic (κ), with the ROs’ assessments deemed as the ‘gold standard’.
Results: The overall concordance for all graded toxicity assessments between HN APRT and ROs was 78.4%. Xerostomia, dysgeusia, pharyngeal pain and dermatitis assessment were evaluated as ‘Good’ with agreement ranging from κ = 0.608–0.640 between the HN APRT and ROs while dysphagia scored an ‘Almost Perfect’ agreement of κ = 0.834. ‘Moderate’ agreement between the HN APRT and ROs was observed for oral pain and mucositis assessment. A scoring discrepancy of 1 and 2 grades was observed in 21.2% and 0.4% for these two toxicities.
Conclusion: There was high concordance in scoring of acute toxicity between the HN APRT and ROs. The results support the continuing involvement of HN APRT in weekly assessments for NPC patients.
Journal/Conference/Book titleTechnical Innovations & Patient Support in Radiation Oncology