Send to

Choose Destination
Arch Intern Med. 2000 Mar 27;160(6):861-8.

Clinical survival predictors in patients with advanced cancer.

Author information

Division of Palliative Care Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.



The clinical and epidemiological relevance of different prognostic factors for survival in patients with advanced or terminal cancer remains controversial.


To establish the survival of patients with cancer after diagnosis of terminal disease and to determine the predictors of survival.


An inception cohort of 227 consecutive patients aged 18 years or older with terminal cancer of the lung, breast, and gastrointestinal tract were observed from July 1, 1996, through December 31, 1998. Tumor- and treatment-specific, clinical, laboratory, demographic, and socioeconomic variables were recorded at baseline. The relationships between these characteristics and survival time were examined using univariate Kaplan-Meier and multivariate Cox regression analyses.


At the time of data analysis, 208 patients (91.6%) had died; the overall median survival for the sample was 15.3 weeks. Shorter survival was independently associated (P< or =.05) with a primary tumor of the lung (vs breast and gastrointestinal tract combined), liver metastases, moderate to-severe comorbidity levels (vs absent-to-mild levels), weight loss of greater than 8.1 kg in the previous 6 months, serum albumin levels of less than 35 g/L, lymphocyte counts of less than 1 X 10(9)/L, serum lactate dehydrogenase levels of greater than 618 U/L, and clinical estimation of survival by the treating physician of less than 2 months (vs 2-6 and >6 months). Performance status, symptoms other than nausea and vomiting, tumor burden, and socioeconomic characteristics such as social support and education and income levels did not appear to be independently associated with survival after adjusting for the effect of prognostic factors.


Simple clinical and laboratory assessments are useful aids in the prediction of survival in patients with solid malignant neoplasms at the onset of terminal stages. Methodological improvements in the design and implementation of survival studies may reduce prognostic uncertainty and ultimately provide better care for the terminally ill patients and their families.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center