Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 219–227 | Cite as

Symptoms in advanced pancreatic cancer are of importance for energy intake

  • Asta ByeEmail author
  • Marit S. Jordhøy
  • Grete Skjegstad
  • Oddlaug Ledsaak
  • Per Ole Iversen
  • Marianne Jensen Hjermstad
Original Article



Cancer cachexia and low energy intake (EI) probably contribute to weight loss in advanced pancreatic cancer (PC). However, little is known about the actual EI in this disease. Aims were to assess EI, weight loss and symptoms during the disease course and investigate associations between symptoms and EI.


Thirty-nine patients (21 males) with advanced PC were consecutively included and followed every 4 weeks until the end of life. A 24-h dietary recall was used to assess EI. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) and the PC-specific health-related quality of life questionnaire (QLQ-PAN26) were used for symptom assessment.


Median age was 62 years (48–88), WHO performance status 1 (0–2) and survival 5 months (1–25). Seventeen (44 %) patients had unresectable cancer, 16 (41 %) metastatic and six (15 %) recurrent disease. Upon inclusion, 37 (95 %) reported weight loss (median 4.0 kg per month). During follow-up, median weight loss per month was <1.0 kg. Forty to 65 % had EI <29 kcal/kg/day (cut-off value for weight maintenance) during the observation period but they did not lose more weight than patients with EI ≥ 29 kcal. Strong negative correlations (r range) were found between EI and pain (0.51–0.61), fatigue (0.54–0.67), oral dryness (0.61–0.64) and loss of appetite (0.53–0.71).


In this study, several symptoms influenced EI negatively. Low EI did not completely explain weight loss in this patient group, but careful monitoring and early follow-up of symptoms may be important interventions to reduce weight loss in advanced PC.


Pancreatic cancer Weight loss Symptoms Food intake 



The authors wish to thank the clinical staff at the Department of Oncology and the Palliative Medicine Unit at Oslo University Hospital for their cooperation. We also want to thank Jurate Saltyte-Benth, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo for all statistical assistance.

Conflict of Interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asta Bye
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marit S. Jordhøy
    • 1
    • 3
  • Grete Skjegstad
    • 2
  • Oddlaug Ledsaak
    • 2
  • Per Ole Iversen
    • 4
    • 5
  • Marianne Jensen Hjermstad
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Regional Centre for Excellence in Palliative CareOslo University HospitalOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Health, Nutrition and ManagementOslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway
  3. 3.The Cancer UnitInnlandet Hospital TrustGjøvikNorway
  4. 4.Department of NutritionUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  5. 5.Department of HematologyOslo University HospitalOsloNorway
  6. 6.European Palliative Care Research Centre, Faculty of MedicineNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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