On March 11, at the 2021 APOS Virtual Conference, the Saint Luke’s Hospital Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer (Koontz Center) received an outstanding award from the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS). 

The Koontz Center was selected as the winner of the Top Research Poster for the piece titled “Psychosocial Correlates of Health Outcomes in Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer,” by Savannah Geske, PhD, Kadie Harry, PhD, and Anahi Ramirez, MA.

APOS is a society formed in 1986 and consists of professionals working in the psychological, behavioral and social aspects of cancer. Over 500 providers in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, social work, chaplaincy and nursing attend the conference every year. This year, a total of 119 posters were accepted for presentation at the conference. The Top Research Award is given to two posters every year and represents significant advancement in psychosocial aspects of cancer care through research.

“Patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) have been traditionally overlooked within cancer research, so little is known about their experiences and struggles,” said Dr. Geske. “This study not only outlines the common physical concerns of those with MBC but suggests that those with higher mental health concerns, nutrition concerns, and support needs experience higher rates of physical concerns. Altogether, this information suggests that those with MBC may benefit from being treated within a center that focuses on all aspects of the human condition.”

The research was aimed at understanding how psychosocial symptoms are related to sleep problems, fatigue, pain, and physical functioning in patients with MBC. The study comprised of assessing patient needs in specific areas of life at their initial appointment: sleep problems, fatigue, pain interference, DSM-5 concerns, tangible support needs, emotional support needs, and nutrition concerns.

Results indicate that more sleep problems, fatigue, pain interference and worse physical functioning are related to greater mental health concerns, more nutritional concerns, and a greater need for support. More research is needed to examine possible interventions to improve these areas of need.

“It is our hope that the Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer, and its associated supportive services, are already mitigating these issues as soon as patients have established care with us,” said Dr. Geske. “Future studies will assess this directly to determine definitively if that is the case.”

The Poster Award is reflective of the comprehensive, holistic approach to care at the Koontz Center, which focuses on patient outcomes and quality of life: treating the whole person. The Koontz Center’s dual approach to care includes personalized treatments that use advanced genomics and immunotherapy.

The Koontz Center is the only program in the region to offer this type of comprehensive care to women with advanced breast cancer. The supportive services include psychology, social work, genetic counseling, nutrition, chaplaincy, and physical therapy. The Koontz Center also hosts the Journey of Courage and Hope retreat for patients with MBC and their caregivers, the monthly Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC) forum and The Last Chapter telehealth group.

Learn more about our specialized treatment for metastatic breast cancer.


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