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Precision Oncology Raises Hope Among Caregivers, For Better or Worse, Study Finds

Precision medicine is having a significant impact on the level of hope experienced by laypeople caring for cancer patients, while also adding complexity to their roles as science rapidly evolves, according to a study appearing in BMJ Open this week. The effect of precision therapies on cancer patient outcomes is well-documented, yet there has been no research into how these new treatments influence the experiences of informal caregivers. A group led by University of Sydney investigators has now conducted interviews with 28 nonprofessional caregivers of cancer patients receiving targeted treatments at hospitals across Australia, focusing on their personal experiences during diagnosis, treatment, and care. The researchers find that hope was the most pervasive theme among the caregivers but that this hope is not universally positive, such as in cases where caregivers feel obligated to project and maintain hopefulness. Overall, the study's authors write, clinicians should work to develop "a better understanding of informal caregivers' experiences of caring for patients receiving precision therapies is important for improving support to patients and their caregivers."