Thomas LeBlanc

Overview:

I am a medical oncologist, palliative care physician, and patient experience researcher, and serve as Chief Patient Experience and Safety Officer for the Duke Cancer Institute. My clinical practice focuses on the care of patients with hematologic malignancies, with a particular emphasis on myeloid conditions and acute leukemias including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs / MPDs, CML).  

As founding Director of the Duke Cancer Patient Experience Research Program (CPEP), my research investigates common issues faced by people with cancer, including issues of symptom burden, quality of life, psychological distress, prognostic understanding, and treatment decision-making. This work aims to improve patients' experiences living with serious illnesses like blood cancers, including the integration of specialist palliative care services to provide an extra layer of support along with their comprehensive cancer care. More broadly, our team in CPEP conducts various studies of patient experience and outcomes issues in oncology, including retrospective chart review studies, comparative effectiveness work, prospective observational studies and registries, and qualitative research, along with efforts to facilitate the integration of patient-generated health data (PGHD) into routine cancer care processes, such as with electronic patient-reported outcome measures (ePROs) and other mobile health interventions (mHealth). 

This work has led to recognition as an "Inspirational Leader under 40" by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), "Fellow" status from the Academy in 2016, the 2018 international "Clinical Impact Award" from the European Association for Palliative Care, and the AAHPM "Early Career Investigator" award in 2020. I served as 2017-18 Chair of the ASCO Ethics Committee, and currently Chair the Scientific Review Committee of the NIH/NINR-funded Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group (PCRC; www.palliativecareresearch.org). I have served on various national guideline panels for AML and for palliative/supportive care issues in oncology, and was inducted as a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO) in 2021. To date I have published over 200 Medline-indexed articles, and several chapters in prominent textbooks of oncology and palliative medicine.

Positions:

Associate Professor of Medicine

Medicine, Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy
School of Medicine

Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences

Population Health Sciences
School of Medicine

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Duke Cancer Institute
School of Medicine

Education:

M.D. 2006

Duke University

Intern

Duke University School of Medicine

Resident

Duke University School of Medicine

Chief Medical Resident

Duke University School of Medicine

Fellowship, Hospice And Palliative Medicine

Duke University School of Medicine

Fellow, Medical Oncology

Duke University School of Medicine

Grants:

AC220-A-U302 trial

Administered By
Duke Clinical Research Institute
Awarded By
Daiichi Sankyo Inc
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Prognostic understanding and decision-making in acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

Administered By
Duke Cancer Institute
Awarded By
American Cancer Society, Inc.
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Randomized Trial of Inpatient Palliative Care for Patients with Hematologic Malignancies

Administered By
Duke Cancer Institute
Awarded By
Massachusetts General Hospital
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Understanding Barriers to Oral Therapy Adherence in Adult/Older-Adult AML Patients (429 Oral)

Administered By
Duke Cancer Institute
Awarded By
Carevive Systems, Inc.
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Palliative care and shared decision-making for patients with blood cancers

Administered By
Duke Cancer Institute
Awarded By
Cambia Health Foundation
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Publications:

"More than conquerors": a qualitative analysis of war metaphors for patients with cancer.

PURPOSE: Meaning-making is fundamental to the cancer experience and communication within cancer care is saturated with metaphors. The objective of this study was to better understand the impact and function of war metaphors among patients with cancer. METHODS: Patients at the Duke Cancer Center were purposively sampled for inclusion based on type and stage of their cancer. Each patient underwent a semi-structured interview to explore their use of metaphors in their lived experience with cancer. Qualitative interviews broadly explored two key areas of interest: (1) frequency and use of metaphors to describe cancer diagnosis, treatment, or survivorship; (2) function and impact of the war metaphor on the patient experience of cancer. RESULTS: Fifteen participants with either breast, lung, or colorectal cancer were interviewed. Most patients used metaphor themes of journey, war, and mystery to describe their cancer. All patients with non-metastatic disease used war metaphors and described how these metaphors facilitated meaning-making by promoting positivity and situating cancer within a larger life story. The few patients who did not use war metaphors had metastatic disease, and they explained that war metaphors were unhelpful due to feeling a lack of control over their metastatic disease and outcomes. CONCLUSION: The war metaphor should remain an integral part of cancer care. Disregarding war metaphors robs patients of an important framework for meaning-making-one that may promote strength, continuity, and resilience in navigating cancer.
Authors
Bodd, MH; Daniels, NC; Amonoo, HL; Tate, T; Herring, KW; LeBlanc, TW
MLA Citation
Bodd, Monica H., et al. “"More than conquerors": a qualitative analysis of war metaphors for patients with cancer.Support Care Cancer, vol. 31, no. 1, Dec. 2022, p. 87. Pubmed, doi:10.1007/s00520-022-07552-y.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1560444
PMID
36573958
Source
pubmed
Published In
Support Care Cancer
Volume
31
Published Date
Start Page
87
DOI
10.1007/s00520-022-07552-y

Duration of Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV) as a Predictor of Recurrent CINV in Later Cycles.

BACKGROUND: The relationship between CINV duration and recurrence in subsequent cycles is largely unstudied. Our objective was to determine if patients experiencing CINV in their first cycle of chemotherapy (C1) would face increased risk of CINV in later cycles and whether the duration of the CINV would predict increased risk of recurrence. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Using data from a previously reported phase III trial, we assessed patients' recurrence of breakthrough CINV after antiemetic prophylaxis for anthracycline+cyclophosphamide (AC) for breast cancer, comparing C1 short CINV vs. extended CINV as a secondary analysis. Complete response (CR) and CINV duration were primary and secondary endpoints, respectively. CR was considered prophylaxis success; lack of CR was considered treatment failure (TF). RESULTS: Among 402 female patients, 99 (24.6%) had TF in C1 (TF1). The remaining 303 patients (CR1) had ≥93% CR rates in each subsequent cycle, while the 99 patients with TF1 had TF rates of 49.8% for cycles 2-4 (P < .001). The 51 patients with extended TF (≥3 days) in C1 had recurrent TF in 73/105 later cycles (69.5%, P < .001), while the 48 patients with short TF (1-2 days) in C1 had recurrent TF in 33/108 later cycles (30.6%). The relative risk of recurrence after C1 extended TF was 2.28 (CI 1.67-3.11; P < .001) compared to short TF. CONCLUSIONS: Prophylaxis success in C1 led to >90% repeat success across cycles of AC-based chemotherapy. For patients with breakthrough CINV, extended duration strongly predicted recurrent CINV. The duration of CINV should be closely monitored, and augmenting antiemetic prophylaxis considered for future cycles when extended CINV occurs.
Authors
Navari, R; Binder, G; Molasiotis, A; Herrstedt, J; Roeland, EJ; Ruddy, KJ; LeBlanc, TW; Kloth, DD; Klute, KA; Papademetriou, E; Schmerold, L; Schwartzberg, L
MLA Citation
Navari, Rudolph, et al. “Duration of Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV) as a Predictor of Recurrent CINV in Later Cycles.Oncologist, Dec. 2022. Pubmed, doi:10.1093/oncolo/oyac240.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1560164
PMID
36527702
Source
pubmed
Published In
Oncologist
Published Date
DOI
10.1093/oncolo/oyac240

Indirect treatment comparison of oral versus injectable azacitidine as maintenance therapy for acute myeloid leukemia.

Aim: Evaluate the relative efficacy of oral versus injectable azacitidine (AZA) maintenance therapy in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) after complete remission. Materials & methods: Systematic literature review identified QUAZAR AML-001, HOVON 97 AML, UK NCRI AML16 and QoLESS-AZA-AMLE (sensitivity analysis) trials. Network meta-analysis and matching-adjusted indirect comparisons assessed survival outcomes. Results: In the network meta-analysis, combining the HOVON 97 and UK NCRI trials, oral AZA (QUAZAR) was associated with significantly improved overall survival (OS) versus injectable AZA (hazard ratio: 0.744; 95% credible interval: 0.557-0.998). After matching-adjusted indirect comparisons, to address differences in patient characteristics across trials, OS improvements were maintained with oral versus injectable AZA (hazard ratio: 0.753; credible interval: 0.563-0.998). Conclusion: In AML, maintenance therapy with oral AZA was associated with improved OS versus injectable AZA.
Authors
Tabah, A; Huggar, D; Wang, S-T; Johnson, SJ; Copher, RM; O'Connell, T; McBride, A; LeBlanc, TW
MLA Citation
Tabah, Ashley, et al. “Indirect treatment comparison of oral versus injectable azacitidine as maintenance therapy for acute myeloid leukemia.Future Oncol, Dec. 2022. Pubmed, doi:10.2217/fon-2022-0820.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1559064
PMID
36507931
Source
pubmed
Published In
Future Oncol
Published Date
DOI
10.2217/fon-2022-0820

What Do Patients Think about Palliative Care? a National Survey of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Background: Palliative care (PC) benefits patients with cancer and those undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), but remains under-utilized in HSCT. While transplant physicians have substantial concerns regarding how patients perceive PC, studies examining HSCT recipients' perceptions of PC are lacking.</jats:p> <jats:p>Methods: Between 11/2020-4/2021, the CIBMTR Survey Research Group conducted a multi-site cross-sectional survey of adult autologous and allogeneic HSCT recipients at 11 transplant centers in the United States who were 3-12 months post-transplant to assess their experience, knowledge, and perceptions of PC. Using validated questionnaires, we assessed patients' familiarity with PC, knowledge and perception of PC, unmet PC needs, quality of life, and symptom burden. We computed a composite score of patients' perceptions of PC (mean = 48.8, SD = 12.2). We used a generalized linear regression model to examine factors associated with patients' perceptions of PC.</jats:p> <jats:p /> <jats:p>Results: Of 359 potentially eligible patients, 250 (69.6%) enrolled in the study and 249 were eligible for analysis. Median participant age was 58.1 years (IQR 16.6). Most were white (85.9%), non-Hispanic or Latino (95.2%), and male (53.0%). Overall, 63.1% underwent autologous HSCT. The most common diagnoses were multiple myeloma (42.2%), lymphoma (22.1%), leukemia (16.9%), and MDS/MPN (12.4%). Overall, 44.2% (110/249) of patients reported limited knowledge about PC and 51.0% (127/249) endorsed being familiar with PC. Most patients stated that when they hear the term PC, they feel hopeful (54%), and reassured (50%) while a minority reported feeling scared (21%), stressed (22%), or depressed (15%) [Figure 1]. Most endorsed that when a PC referral is suggested for them, they think their doctor really cares about what is happening to them (83%), and only 7% of patients stated that when a PC referral is suggested, they think their doctor has given up on them [Figure 2]. In multivariate analyses, patients who were more knowledgeable about PC were more likely to have a positive perception of PC (B = 7.54, SE=1.61, P &amp;lt; 0.001) compared to those who had less knowledge about PC. Patients with postgraduate education were more likely to have a negative perception of PC (B = -5.55, SE=2.60, P = 0.034) compared to those with high school education or less. Patients' demographics, HSCT type, diagnosis, unmet PC needs, quality of life, and symptom burden were not statistically significantly associated with their perceptions of PC.</jats:p> <jats:p /> <jats:p>Conclusions: A substantial proportion of HSCT recipients report limited knowledge and familiarity with PC. Most patients reported positive perceptions of PC, and those who were more knowledgeable about PC were more likely to have positive perceptions of PC. These data do not support transplant physicians' concerns about how patients perceive PC and underscore the need for future interventions to further educate patients about PC to overcome barriers to PC utilization in HSCT.</jats:p> <jats:p>Figure 1 Figure 1.</jats:p> <jats:p /> <jats:sec> <jats:title>Disclosures</jats:title> <jats:p>Burns: Astellas Pharma Inc.: Research Funding; Medac GmbH: Research Funding; Sanofi: Research Funding; OncoImmune: Research Funding; Fate: Research Funding; Bristol Meyers Squibb: Research Funding; PrioThera: Research Funding; Kyowa Kirin International: Research Funding. Murthy: CRISPR Therapeutics: Research Funding. LeBlanc: Amgen: Consultancy, Other: travel; Pfizer: Consultancy, Other: Advisory Board; AstraZeneca: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Advisory board, Research Funding; Flatiron: Consultancy, Other: Advisory board; Agios: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Advisory board; Travel fees, Speakers Bureau; BMS/Celgene: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Travel fees, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Daiichi-Sankyo: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Advisory board; AbbVie: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Advisory board; Travel fees, Speakers Bureau; Helsinn: Consultancy, Research Funding; Duke University: Research Funding; Jazz Pharmaceuticals: Research Funding; UpToDate: Patents &amp; Royalties; NINR/NIH: Research Funding; CareVive: Consultancy, Other, Research Funding; Otsuka: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other; American Cancer Society: Research Funding; Seattle Genetics: Consultancy, Other: Advisory board, Research Funding; Astellas: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: Advisory board; Heron: Consultancy, Honoraria, Other: advisory board.</jats:p> </jats:sec>
Authors
El-Jawahri, A; Meyer, C; Mau, L-W; Mattila, D; Burns, LJ; Ullrich, C; Murthy, HS; Wood, WA; Petersdorf, EW; LeBlanc, TW
MLA Citation
El-Jawahri, Areej, et al. “What Do Patients Think about Palliative Care? a National Survey of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Recipients.” Blood, vol. 138, no. Supplement 1, American Society of Hematology, 2021, pp. 2968–2968. Crossref, doi:10.1182/blood-2021-149766.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1535974
Source
crossref
Published In
Blood
Volume
138
Published Date
Start Page
2968
End Page
2968
DOI
10.1182/blood-2021-149766

Palliative care in hematologic malignancies: a multidisciplinary approach.

Introduction: Palliative care is specialized health care focused on improving the quality of life amid serious illness. Patients with hematologic malignancies have significant needs that could be addressed by a multidisciplinary palliative care team, but the integration of palliative care into hematology is far behind that of solid tumor oncology.Areas covered: This article considers what is known about the palliative care needs of hematologic malignancy patients, shows how the multidisciplinary palliative care team could improve their care, and explores how barriers to this relationship might be overcome. The evidence to support this review comes from review of recent, relevant papers known to the authors as well as PubMed searches of additional relevant articles over the past 3 years.Expert opinion: Further cultivating this relationship requires us to thoughtfully integrate the multidisciplinary palliative care team to respond to each patient's specific disease and needs, and do so at the ideal time, to maximize benefits.
Authors
Gatta, B; LeBlanc, TW
MLA Citation
Gatta, Brittany, and Thomas W. LeBlanc. “Palliative care in hematologic malignancies: a multidisciplinary approach.Expert Rev Hematol, vol. 13, no. 3, Mar. 2020, pp. 223–31. Pubmed, doi:10.1080/17474086.2020.1728248.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1432582
PMID
32066301
Source
pubmed
Published In
Expert Review of Hematology
Volume
13
Published Date
Start Page
223
End Page
231
DOI
10.1080/17474086.2020.1728248

Research Areas:

Aged
Attitude of Health Personnel
Attitude to Death
Attitude to Health
Cardiovascular Diseases
Clinical Competence
Clinical Trials as Topic
Cognition Disorders
Communication
Comparative Effectiveness Research
Decision Making
Diffusion of Innovation
Dyspnea
Ethics
Evidence-Based Medicine
Guideline Adherence
Health Services Research
Hematologic Neoplasms
Hospice Care
Information Dissemination
Inpatients
Jargon
Leukemia
Lung Neoplasms
Lymphoma
Medical education
Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Myeloproliferative Disorders
Neoplasms
Nonverbal Communication
Odds Ratio
Oncology Service, Hospital
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
Oxygen
Pain
Pain Management
Palliative Care
Patient Selection
Patient-Centered Care
Perception
Prognosis
Quality of Health Care
Statistics as Topic
Terminal Care
Treatment Outcome
Withholding Treatment