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Support Care Cancer. 2006 Nov;14(11):1126-33. Epub 2006 Apr 7.

Symptom profiles and palliative care in advanced pancreatic cancer: a prospective study.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterological Surgery, Ullevaal University Hospital HF, Oslo, Norway. knutjorgen.labori@ulleval.no



To describe prospectively the prevalence and severity of disease-related symptoms, quality of life (QOL) and need for palliative care in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.


Fifty-one patients treated for advanced pancreatic cancer filled in the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) for symptom registration and the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-PAN26 quality of life questionnaires at first contact (baseline) and the ESAS in the following consultations. Need for palliative interventions were registered.


Of the 22 women and 29 men (mean age, 62 years), 20 had locally unresectable cancer, 19 had metastatic disease, and 12 had recurrent disease after curative resection. Forty-six patients died during follow-up (median survival, 99 days). At baseline, patients reported significantly impaired QOL on nine of 15 scales/items (p<0.01) relative to the general population. Fatigue, loss of appetite, and impaired sense of well-being were the most troublesome symptoms on the ESAS, measured to 4.4(+/-2.8)/5.3(+/-2.3), 4.4(+/-3.2)/5.9(+/-2.7), and 4.0(+/-2.9)/4.6(+/-2.7) (mean+/-SD) at baseline and 8 weeks before death, respectively. Forty-four of the 51 (86%) initial consultations and 107 (58%) of the 185 follow-ups (124 clinical and 61 phone-calls) resulted in palliative care interventions, most frequently changes in opioid or laxative medication and dietary advice.


Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer develop several distressing symptoms. ESAS was useful for assessment of symptom prevalence and intensity and is a clinically adequate method for symptom control. A multidisciplinary approach is necessary for the best palliation of symptoms at the time of diagnosis and during follow-up.

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