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Early detection helps manage a chronic graft-vs.-host disease complication
Date:3/6/2014

patients in multiple treatment centers.

One of the study's findings was both surprising and encouraging: As a screening test, the simple questionnaire outperformed other tests, which the study called encouraging.

"The questionnaire turned out to be the most predictive," Lee said. "It's just a question, therefore easy to do and cost effective. No special equipment is involved."

The NIH symptom-based lung score asks about breathing difficulties and assigns the following numbers: 0 for no symptoms, 1 for shortness of breath with stairs, 2 for shortness of breath on flat ground, and 3 for shortness of breath at rest or requiring oxygen.

Not surprisingly, a score of 3 (shortness of breath at rest or requiring oxygen) was associated with higher mortality. But, the study pointed out, even patients with an NIH symptom-based lung score of 1 (shortness of breath with stairs) had a worse outcome than those with a score of 0.

Again, Lee saw the result as a way to notice problems earlier and start treatment sooner.

The patient's doctor would most likely follow up a poor score with other tests, such as a CT scan, to determine the cause; although chronic GVHD should always be suspected following a transplant, it is not the cause of every problem. The first line of treatment for chronic GVHD is medicines that suppress the immune system.

A poor score can also serve as a reminder to make sure the patient has had a pneumonia vaccination and is taking other precautions, Lee said.


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Contact: Kristen Woodward
media@fredhutch.org
206-667-2210
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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