Shared decision-making for prophylactic cranial irradiation in extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer: an exploratory study

A. Ankolekar, D. De Ruysscher, B. Reymen, R. Houben, A. Dekker, C. Roumen, R. Fijten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) offers extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC) patients a lower chance of brain metastasis and slightly longer survival but is associated with a short-term decline in quality of life due to side-effects. This tradeoff between survival and quality of life makes PCI suitable for shared decision-making (SDM), where patients and clinicians make treatment decisions together based on clinical evidence and patient preferences. Despite recent clinical practice guidelines recommending SDM for PCI in ES-SCLC, as well as the heavy disease burden, research into SDM for lung cancer has been scarce. This exploratory study presents patients' experiences of the SDM process and decisional conflict for PCI.Methods: Radiation oncologists (n=7) trained in SDM applied it in making the PCI decision with ES-SCLC patients (n=25). We measured patients' preferred level of participation (Control Preferences Scale), the level of SDM according to both groups (SDM-Q-9 and SDM-Q-Doc), and patients' decisional conflict [decisional conflict scale (DCS)].Results: Seventy- nine percent of patients preferred a collaborative role in decision-making, and median SDM scores given by patients and clinicians were 80 (IQR: 75.6-91.1) and 85.2 (IQR: 78.7-88.9) respectively, indicating satisfaction with the process. However, patients experienced considerable decisional conflict. Over 50% lacked clarity about which choice was suitable for them and were unsure what to choose. Sixty-four percent felt they did not know enough about the harms and benefits of PCI, and 60% felt unable to judge the importance of the harms/benefits in their life.Conclusions: ES-SCLC patients prefer to be involved in their treatment choice for PCI but a substantial portion experiences decisional conflict. Better information provision and values clarification may support patients in making a choice that reflects their preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3120-3131
Number of pages14
JournalTranslational Lung Cancer Research
Issue number7
Early online date25 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Shared decision-making (SDM)
  • small-cell lung cancer (SCLC)
  • prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI)
  • patient-centered
  • decisional conflict


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