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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2003 Mar;25(3):225-35.

Longitudinal quality of life in advanced cancer patients: pilot study results from a VA medical cancer center.

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Section of Hematology/Oncology, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ 07018, USA.


To document quality-of-life (QOL), symptom distress and Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) over time, 67 advanced cancer patients completed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT-G) and Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale - Short Form (MSAS-SF) from the time of determination of no active anti-cancer treatment to death at 3-6 week intervals. The KPS was determined at each time point. Statistical analyses with mixed effects models were performed to examine the association between changes in QOL, symptom distress and KPS at selected time points in the advanced cancer trajectory. Median survival for the population was 115 days, and a median of 5 interviews was completed per patient. Slow steady changes in KPS, MSAS-SF and FACT-G QOL parameters started 6 months prior to death, with accelerated decline in the last 2 to 3 months and dramatic increase in psychological symptoms during the last month. Different domains changed at different rates at different selected time points. The correlation between changes in KPS, FACT-G parameters and MSAS-SF subscales at enrollment and near death suggests that when patients were stable, changes in KPS correlated significantly with changes in sum FACT-G QOL and physical well being, and with changes in the MSAS-SF subscales. However, when patients were near death, changes in KPS did not correlate with any other changes, and only emotional well being reflected changes in physical and psychological symptom distress. The sequence of changes, and how determinants of symptom distress and QOL change over time, may help clinicians assess the prognosis of terminally ill patients and plan appropriate interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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