Neuropathic symptoms, physical and emotional well-being, and quality of life at the end of life

  • Cindy TofthagenEmail author
  • Constance Visovsky
  • Sara Dominic
  • Susan McMillan
Original Article


The purpose of this cross-sectional, descriptive study was to assess differences in neuropathic symptoms, physical and emotional well-being, and quality of life in cancer patients at the end of life compared to those without neuropathic symptoms. Neuropathic symptoms were defined as numbness and tingling in the hands and/or feet. A secondary analysis of data from two hospices in Central Florida was performed. Adults (n = 717) with a cancer diagnosis, an identified family caregiver, and who were receiving hospice services, were eligible. The prevalence of numbness/tingling in the hands or feet was 40% in this sample of hospice patients with cancer. Participants with neuropathic symptoms of numbness/tingling had a significantly higher prevalence of pain (76.7% vs. 67.0%; p = .006), difficulty with urination (29.4% vs. 20.3%; p = .007), shortness of breath (64.9% vs. 54.1%; p = .005), dizziness/lightheadedness (46.0% vs. 28.2%; p < .001), sweats (35.5% vs. 20.3%; p < .001), worrying (50.7% vs. 37.3%; p = .001), feeling irritable (38.5% vs. 28.7%; p = .008), feeling sad (48.2% vs. 37.8%; p = .008), and difficulty concentrating (46.2% vs. 32.5%; p < .001). They also reported significantly higher overall symptom intensity and symptom distress scores (p = < .001), higher pain severity (p = .001) and pain distress (p = .002), and decreased quality of life (p = .002) compared to those without numbness/tingling. Neuropathic symptoms are emotionally distressing at the end of life and associated with higher symptom burden and diminished quality of life.


Supportive care Palliative care Symptom management 


Compliance with ethical standards

The project was approved by the administrators of the two involved hospices and by the University of South Florida Institutional Review.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mayo Clinic FloridaJacksonvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of South Florida, College of NursingTampaUSA

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