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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2005 Jul;30(1):18-23.

Prospective assessment of patient-rated symptoms following whole brain radiotherapy for brain metastases.

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1
Rapid Response Radiotherapy Program, Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Center, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

To prospectively assess patient-rated symptoms in patients with brain metastases treated with whole brain radiotherapy, these patients were asked to rate their symptoms on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) before, and 1, 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks following the radiation treatment. ESAS evaluates pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, appetite, sense of well-being, and shortness of breath on a scale of 0-10 (0=absence of symptom and 10=worst possible symptom). Patients with a language barrier or significant cognitive impairment were excluded. The mean difference of ESAS symptoms at each follow up were compared with baseline and P < 0.01 was considered statistically significant. One hundred seventy patients (102 female and 68 male) were included between January 1999 and January 2002. Their median age was 66 years (range 33-84) and the median Karnofsky performance score (KPS) at baseline was 60 (range 20-90). The most common primary cancer sites were lung (99; 58%), breast (32; 19%), gastrointestinal (16; 9%), unknown (14; 8%) and others (9; 6%). One-third had significant weight loss (> or =10% over the last 6 months). All patients were prescribed dexamethasone at varying doses during radiotherapy. The dose fractionations were 20 Gy in 5 fractions, 138 (81%); 30 Gy in 10 fractions, 7 (4%); and others, 25 (15%). The baseline mean +/- SD for ESAS scores were: pain 2.4 +/- 2.8, fatigue 5.3 +/- 2.8, nausea 1.3 +/- 2.2, depression 2.8 +/- 2.7, anxiety 3.6 +/- 3.0, drowsiness 3.5 +/- 2.9, appetite 3.0 +/- 3.2, sense of well-being 3.8 +/- 2.7, and shortness of breath 2.3 +/- 2.5. For the entire cohort, after the delivery of palliative radiotherapy for brain metastases, there were statistically significant deteriorations in the mean differences from the baseline for the following ESAS domains: fatigue 1.0 to 1.8; drowsiness 1.2 to 1.8; and appetite 2.2 to 2.4. The data demonstrate that certain parameters of quality of life worsen after whole brain radiotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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