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Symptom trajectories and predictors of severe symptoms in pancreatic adenocarcinoma at the end-of-life: a population based analysis of 2,538 patients


Background — We evaluated symptom trajectories and predictors of reporting severe symptoms in the last 6 months of life among non-resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAC) decedents.

Methods — A retrospective cohort study of non-resected PAC decedents receiving care at regional cancer centres between January 2007 and December 2015. Symptoms were measured using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS). We described the proportion of patients reporting severe (score ≥7) symptoms by 2-week intervals during the six months prior to death. Multivariable modified Poisson regression models identified predictors of reporting severe symptom scores in the last 6 months of life.

Results — 2538 non-resected PAC decedents treated at regional cancer centres had ≥1 symptom ESAS record in the last six months of life, totaling 10,893 unique symptom assessments. Tiredness was the most commonly reported symptom (59% reporting ≥1 severe score), followed by lack of appetite (57%), impaired-wellbeing (49%) and drowsiness (42%). All symptoms increased closer to death. Older age, female sex, higher comorbidity status, survival less than 6 months, and urban residence were associated with a significantly higher risk of reporting severe symptoms.

Conclusion — Non-resected PAC patients experience significant symptom burden nearing death. Patient subsets may benefit from personalized supportive care interventions.



Hammad A, Davis LE, Mahar AL, Bubis LD,  Zhao H, Earle CC, Barbera L, Hallet J, Coburn NG. HPB (Oxford). 2019; 21(12):1744-52. Epub 2019 Jul 10.

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