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J Pain Symptom Manage. 1997 Dec;14(6):328-31.

Symptom prevalence in the last week of life.

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Radiation Oncology Department, Hospital Clínic i Provincial, Barcelona, Spain.


Palliative care is the management of patients with progressive, far-advanced disease for whom the prognosis is limited and the focus of care is quality of life. During the last days of life, it is important to redefine the goals, as previously present symptoms may increase and new symptoms may appear. To assess these symptoms, 176 patients were evaluated. A questionnaire evaluated symptoms during the last week of life and compared these prevalences with those at the first evaluation. The patients comprised 121 men and 55 women. The mean age was 67.7 years. Metastases were present in 66.5% and were multiple in 52%. The most frequent symptoms at the end of life (> 50%) were anorexia, asthenia, dry mouth, confusion, and constipation. The majority of patients died at home (64.2%). We observed good control of "reversible" symptoms, but many symptoms were difficult to control at the end of life. Symptom assessment is important in this population.

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