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Symptom prevalence and severity in palliative cancer medicine


Objectives To establish symptom prevalence and associated distress in a large cohort of UK patients with cancer referred to a palliative care team.

Methods This is a secondary analysis of two large data sets of patients with advanced cancer. Each patient had completed the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale-Short Form to assess 32 symptoms and related distress. Data frequencies were conducted in Excel.

Results 1507 patients were recruited. The most common symptoms were lack of energy (89%), pain (83%), feeling drowsy (77%) and dry mouth (70%). 67% of patients had psychological symptoms, with 31% of all patients having significant psychological distress.

Conclusions Symptom burden is significant in palliative patients with cancer. Structured symptom assessment with access to relevant supportive services is recommended.

  • cancer
  • symptoms and symptom management
  • clinical assessment

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