Symptoms in Advanced Cancer Patients in a Greek Hospital:a Descriptive Study

Document Type: Research Articles

Authors

1 Research Laboratory “Care in Adult Cancer Patients”, Department of Nursing, Alexander Technological Educational Institute, Thessaloniki, Sparta, Greece.

2 Nursing Research and Practice Laboratory, Department of Nursing, University of Peloponnese, Sparta, Greece.

Abstract

Background: Advanced cancer patients experience several physical or psychological symptoms which require
palliative care for alleviation. Purpose: To assess the prevalence and intensity of symptoms among cancer patients
receiving palliative care in a Greek hospital and to examine the association between reported symptoms and social
clinical and demographic characteristics. Material-methods: This descriptive research was conducted during a sixmonth
period using a convenient sample of 123 advanced cancer patients. All participants were assessed for their
symptoms using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) with a questionnaire covering demographic
and clinical characteristics. Results: The mean age was 63.8± 10.8 years, with lung and breast (58.5% and 11.4%,
respectively) as the most common primary cancer types. The most severe symptoms were fatigue, sleep disturbance,
dyspnea, depression and anxiety. Negative correlations were revealed between age and the following symptoms: pain
(r = -0.354, p = 0.001), fatigue (r = -0.280, p = 0.002), nausea (r = -0.178, p = 0.049), anorexia (r = -0.188, p = 0.038),
dyspnea (r = -0.251, p = 0.005), and depression (r = -0.223, p = 0.013). Advanced breast cancer patients scored higher
in pain, fatigue and dyspnea compared to those with other cancers. Conclusions: Hospitalized cancer patients in Greece
experience several symptoms during the last months of their life. These are influenced by demographic characteristics.
Appropriate interventions are strongly advised with appropriate recognition and evaluation of symptoms by health
professionals.

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