Health-related quality of life during the last three months of life in patients with advanced cancer
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- Elmqvist, M.A., Jordhøy, M.S., Bjordal, K. et al. Support Care Cancer (2009) 17: 191. doi:10.1007/s00520-008-0477-2
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Goals of work
The aim of the study was to explore the development of functioning impairments and symptom occurrence during the last months of life of advanced cancer patients.
Materials and methods
Self-reported data from 116 patients who all completed the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire—Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-C30) at 3, 2 and 1 month before death were analysed.
All functioning aspects deteriorated. For physical, cognitive and social function, the most marked changes occurred between 2 and 1 month before death. The proportion reporting serious difficulties with self-care activities increased from 14% to 43%. The most seriously affected activity could not be distinguished from the EORTC QLQ-C30 scores. Levels of fatigue, dyspnoea and appetite loss increased significantly. More than 50% of the patients had severe pain at all assessments, and only a minor number (8%) reported any improvement.
The findings have implications for the planning of care and indicate that further research is required to improve assessment, treatment and follow-up procedures. Adequate pain treatment seems still to be a challenge. Anorexia, fatigue as well as dyspnoea are all symptoms that need further focus.