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J Palliat Care. 2012 Spring;28(1):13-20.

Evaluation of frequency of clinical symptoms and signs within six months prior to death in patients with advanced solid cancers.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, West Bothnia Central Hospital, Kauppakatu 25, FI-94100 Kemi, Finland. jaana.kaleva-kerola@lpshp.fi


This retrospective study documented the frequency of the clinical symptoms and signs that increase in advanced cancer patients as they move toward death in order to create a sum score and correlate it with survival. Of 572 adult patients who were treated in four selected hospitals and who died in 1998 and 1999, data at six, three, and one month(s) prior to death was available for 257. The results showed that the number of symptoms and certain clinical findings accelerated toward death, increasing the sum score. Younger patients obtained higher sum scores at one month prior to death than did elderly ones (p=0.014); this suggests that elderly patients die at a point where they show less worsening in their clinical condition than do younger patients. The score was independent of cancer type or gender. The results of this analysis provide data for further development of a clinical tool to predict long-term survival in palliative care settings.

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