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Patient-reported symptoms in metastatic gastric cancer patients in the last 6 months of life

Bubis LD, Delibasic V, Davis LE, Jeong Y, Chan K, Kosyachkova E, Mahar A, Karanicolas P, Coburn NG. Support Care Cancer. 2020; May 15 [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-020-05501-1


Background — Patients with metastatic gastric cancer have poor survival outcomes and may experience high symptom burden. We evaluated symptom trajectory and risk factors for increased symptom severity among metastatic gastric cancer patients during the last 6 months of life.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study among patients ≥ 18 years diagnosed with metastatic gastric cancer from January 2007 to December 2014 in the province of Ontario, Canada. We included patients who died during the study period and who reported at least one Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) score during the last 6 months of life. We described the proportion of patients who reported moderate-to-severe symptom scores (≥ 4) by month. Multivariable logistic regression models were created to identify risk factors for moderate-to-severe symptom scores.

Results — Seven hundred eighty-eight eligible patients with 3286 unique symptom scores completed during their last 6 months of life were identified. The highest prevalence of moderate-to-severe scores was observed for tiredness and lack of appetite, while nausea and depression had the lowest prevalence of elevated scores. The prevalence of moderate-to-severe was consistently high for all symptoms, particularly approaching end-of-life. Timing of ESAS scores, receipt of cancer-directed therapy, urban residence, and female sex were associated with increased odds of reporting moderate-to-severe symptom scores.

Conclusion — Patients with metastatic gastric cancer experience significant symptom burden at the end-of-life. Routine screening with patient-reported outcome tools may assist in shared decision-making and effective palliative care by ensuring patients' health status and supportive care needs are identified promptly at the time of clinical encounters.

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