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Women Health. 1999;29(3):1-12.

The influence of symptoms, age, comorbidity and cancer site on physical functioning and mental health of geriatric women patients.

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  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824, USA.


This article focuses on how cancer site, age and comorbid conditions of elderly women cancer patients influence their reporting of symptoms; how these variables in turn impact their physical functioning and mental health; and whether there are differences according to the site of the cancer. For the study, a sample of 299 women, age 65 and above, was selected from an on-going longitudinal study of cancer patients recruited from six cancer treatment centers in Michigan and who were recently diagnosed with breast, colon or lung cancer. Age, comorbidity and cancer site were predictors of symptom severity. Age, comorbidity, symptom severity and cancer site were significant predictors of physical functioning, while mental health scores were only predicted by symptom severity. Lung cancer patients reported greater losses in physical functioning than either breast or colon cancer patients, however there were no significant differences in average mental health scores among the three cancer sites. A systematic and comprehensive approach to self-care management of symptom distress provided by oncologists and other health care professionals may enable patients, especially elderly patients with comorbid conditions, to successfully alleviate or reduce the impact of symptoms on their lives.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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