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Patient-reported distress and problems among elderly patients with hematological malignancy in Korea

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Treatment for hematological malignancies (HMs) and functional decline associated with age can cause distress in elderly patients with HMs. However, information about the nature and effects of distress in this population is scarce. Therefore, this study examined the level of distress, its source, and the practical/familial/physical/emotional problems among elderly patients with HMs.


We conducted a cross-sectional study of patients with HMs aged ≥ 65 years who visited an outpatient clinic at a tertiary medical center in Korea between November 2019 and March 2020. Patient-reported distress and problems were measured using the distress thermometer (DT) and 39‐item Problem List by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Descriptive statistics, χ2 test or Fisher’s exact test, and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted (N = 132).


In total, 62.1% of patients had moderate to severe distress (DT score ≥ 4), experiencing an average of nine problems. Significant sources of distress on multivariate logistic analysis included problems with transportation, depression, and constipation, accounting for 47% of distress variance. Most patients had physical (97.0%) or emotional problems (79.5%). Among these, fatigue (60.6%), worry (59.8%), tingling (59.8%), difficulty with mobility (47.0%), and memory/concentration (40.2%) were the most frequently reported problems.


Elderly patients with HMs have a high burden of distress, which is affected by different sources, compared with younger patients with solid tumors. Thus, in this population, assessment and management of distress need to be conducted considering the unique features of their source and burden. Further research on distress should consider the cancer type and population age.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the present study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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Author information

Authors and Affiliations



All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Specifically, Park S. performed the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. Kim Y. was involved in revising the manuscript for important intellectual contents. Hong H. collected the data and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hyunju Hong.

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Ethics approval

This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was granted by the Ethics Committee of National Cancer Center (Number NCC 2019–0282).

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Park, Sy., Kim, Y. & Hong, H. Patient-reported distress and problems among elderly patients with hematological malignancy in Korea. Support Care Cancer 30, 9019–9027 (2022).

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