Skip to main content

Symptom burden of nonresected pancreatic adenocarcinoma: an analysis of 10,753 patient-reported outcome assessments

Mavros MN, Davis LE, Hallet J, Tung S, Mahar AL, Bubis LD, Hammad A, Zhao H, Earle CC, Barbera L, Coburn NG. Pancreas. 2020; 49(8):1083-9. Epub 2020 Aug 4. DOI:

Objectives — Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAC) is a debilitating disease. We sought to analyze symptom burden and trajectories after diagnosis of PAC and identify predictors of severe symptoms for nonresected patients.

Methods — This was a retrospective review of linked administrative health care databases examining patients with PAC not undergoing resection. Primary outcome was severe patient-reported symptoms (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System ≥7). Multivariable modified Poisson regression models were used to identify factors associated with reporting severe symptoms.

Results — A total of 10,753 symptom assessments from 2168 patients were analyzed. The median age was 67 years, and 47% were female; median survival was 7 months. Most common severe symptoms were tiredness (54.7%), anorexia (53.6%), overall impaired wellbeing (45.3%), and drowsiness (37.1%). Severity of symptoms decreased 1 month after diagnosis and plateaued 4 months after diagnosis. Female sex, comorbidities, and older age were associated with reporting severe symptoms; recent radiation treatment and residence in a rural community were associated with reporting less severe symptoms.

Conclusions — The prevalence of severe symptoms in patients with nonresected PAC was high, but potentially modifiable. We identified vulnerable groups of patients that may benefit from focused interventions. This information is important for patient counseling and design of supportive care strategies.