Background Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Palestine. Cancer patients usually suffer high levels of physical and psychological symptoms. In Gaza, there are no studies assessing symptom burden and quality of life (QoL) using validated tools. The aim of this study was to assess symptom burden and QoL in a representative sample of cancer patients accessing outpatient services in the Gaza Strip.
Methods A cross-sectional, descriptive survey was used. The Lebanese version of the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (MSAS-Leb) and the Arabic version of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-C30 (EORTC QLQ-C30) were used to collect data from cancer patients accessing oncology outpatient services at Al Rantisi Hospital or European Gaza Hospital (EGH) from July to August 2019. Analysis is ongoing including modelling to derive determinants of symptom prevalence and QoL.
Results Data were collected from 385 cancer patients (93% response rate) at Al Rantisi Hospital and EGH. The majority of participants were women with breast cancer and the mean age was 52 years. The most commonly reported physical symptoms were lack of energy and pain and the most common psychological symptoms were feeling nervous and feeling sad. A higher level of burden of global distress, physical, and psychological symptoms was found in patients categorised as either ‘Divorced/Widowed/Widower’, with less than secondary school education or low income. The physical and role functioning domains of the EORTC QLQ-C30 were found to have the lowest score and cognitive functioning the highest.
Conclusions A high symptom burden was identified across participants. There remain many unresolved problematic symptoms for patients with cancer that affect their QoL. Utilising such systematic assessment of symptom burden and QoL can help to inform guidance and protocols for treatment and follow up of cancer patients in this context.
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