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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2014 Apr;47(4):697-709. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2013.05.017. Epub 2013 Jul 31.

Differences in the symptom experience of older oncology outpatients.

Author information

1
School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.
2
School of Nursing, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.
3
School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia.
4
School of Nursing, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA; Institute for Human Genetics, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.
5
School of Nursing, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA. Electronic address: chris.miaskowski@nursing.ucsf.edu.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

The relatively low number of older patients in cancer trials limits knowledge of how older adults experience symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment.

OBJECTIVES:

This study evaluated for differences in the symptom experience across four older age groups (60-64, 65-69, 70-74, ≥75 years).

METHODS:

Demographic, clinical, and symptom data from 330 patients aged >60 years who participated in one Australian and two U.S. studies were evaluated. The Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale was used to evaluate the occurrence, severity, frequency, and distress of 32 symptoms commonly associated with cancer and its treatment.

RESULTS:

On average, regardless of the age group, patients reported 10 concurrent symptoms. The most prevalent symptoms were physical in nature. Worrying was the most common psychological symptom. For 28 (87.5%) of the 32 Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale symptoms, no age-related differences were found in symptom occurrence rates. For symptom severity ratings, an age-related trend was found for difficulty swallowing. As age increased, severity of difficulty swallowing decreased. For symptom frequency, age-related trends were found for feeling irritable and diarrhea, with both decreasing in frequency as age increased. For symptom distress, age-related trends were found for lack of energy, shortness of breath, feeling bloated, and difficulty swallowing. As age increased, these symptoms received lower average distress ratings.

CONCLUSION:

Additional research is warranted to examine how age differences in symptom experience are influenced by treatment differences, aging-related changes in biological or psychological processes, or age-related response shift.

KEYWORDS:

Geriatric oncology; cancer; multiple concurrent symptoms; symptom assessment; symptom distress; symptoms

PMID:
23916681
PMCID:
PMC3833968
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2013.05.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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