Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 191–198

Health-related quality of life during the last three months of life in patients with advanced cancer

  • Marianne Ahlner Elmqvist
  • Marit S. Jordhøy
  • Kristin Bjordal
  • Stein Kaasa
  • Magnus Jannert
Original Article


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.

Main results

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.


EORTC QLQ-C30 Palliative care Cancer Self-assessment questionnaires Health-related quality of life End of life 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marianne Ahlner Elmqvist
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • Marit S. Jordhøy
    • 3
    • 4
  • Kristin Bjordal
    • 5
  • Stein Kaasa
    • 3
    • 6
  • Magnus Jannert
    • 1
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Clinical SciencesLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and SocietyMalmö UniversityMalmöSweden
  3. 3.Pain and Palliation Research Group, Department of Cancer Research and Molecular MedicineNTNUTrondheimNorway
  4. 4.Cancer Unit, Department of Internal Medicine-GjøvikInnlandet Hospital TrustGjøvikNorway
  5. 5.Department of Oncology, Norwegian Radium HospitalRikshospitalet University HospitalOsloNorway
  6. 6.Palliative Medicine Unit, Department of Radiotherapy and OncologyUniversity Hospital of TrondheimTrondheimNorway
  7. 7.Department of Oto-Rhino-LaryngologyMalmö University HospitalMalmöSweden

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