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Ann Oncol. 1996 Feb;7(2):189-95.

On the receiving end. V: Patient perceptions of the side effects of cancer chemotherapy in 1993.

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Medical Psychology Unit, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW, Australia.



A study conducted in 1983 to identify and rank the symptoms experienced by patients receiving cancer chemotherapy reported that vomiting and nausea were the most important symptoms experienced. With the advent of new antiemetic regimens and changes in cancer chemotherapy, it was anticipated that changes may have occurred in patient perception of symptoms. The study was therefore repeated in 1993.


One hundred and fifty-five cancer patients receiving chemotherapy at a large urban teaching hospital participated in the study. Patients selected from cards listing symptoms all those experienced and the five most troublesome.


Patients reported experiencing an average of 20 symptoms (13 physical and 7 psychosocial). Nausea was reported as the most severe symptom followed by tiredness and loss of hair. Vomiting which was the most severe symptom in 1983, now ranked 5th. Differences were detected in the symptoms experienced and reported as most severe, between chemotherapy regimens, between older and younger patients and between males and females.


The results suggest a reduction in the severity of some symptoms experienced while receiving chemotherapy and a shift from concerns about physical to psychosocial issues.

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