Lung cancer has the highest incidence and mortality of all cancers in China. Patients after a lobectomy experience serious physical and psychological symptoms during chemotherapy. Studies are lacking about symptom clusters (SCs) and sentinel symptoms during the postoperative chemotherapy period in lung cancer patients.
The aim of this study was to explore SCs and sentinel symptoms during cycles 1 and 2 of postoperative chemotherapy in patients with lung cancer.
Using a longitudinal study design, patients in treatment for lung cancer were measured at 2 separate points following a lobectomy: chemotherapy cycle 1 and chemotherapy cycle 2. The MD Anderson Symptom Inventory lung cancer-specific module and First Appearance of Symptoms Time Sheet were completed.
A total of 180 postoperative patients with lung cancer participated in the study. Four SCs were identified at chemotherapy cycle 1: gastrointestinal SC, respiratory tract SC, psychological SC, and somatic SC. The sentinel symptoms were nausea, cough, sadness, and fatigue. At chemotherapy cycle 2, similar SCs were identified, with the exception of merging the psychological SC and somatic SC, resulting in 3 clusters: gastrointestinal SC, respiratory tract SC, and psychological-somatic SC. The sentinel symptoms were nausea, cough, and fatigue.
Symptom clusters and sentinel symptoms were stable during the first 2 cycles of postoperative chemotherapy in patients with lung cancer.
The understanding of SCs and sentinel symptoms could be beneficial to assess and manage both in postoperative patients with lung cancer during chemotherapy. Nurses should pay close attention to sentinel symptoms and develop effective interventions.

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