The symptoms of advanced cancer: relationship to age, gender, and performance status in 1,000 patients

Support Care Cancer. 2000 May;8(3):175-9. doi: 10.1007/s005200050281.


A multivariate analysis of the data was conducted to evaluate the effects of age, gender, and performance status on symptom profile. A comprehensive prospective analysis of symptoms was conducted in 1,000 patients on initial referral to the Palliative Medicine Program of the Cleveland Clinic. The median number of symptoms per patient was 11 (range 1-27). The ten most prevalent symptoms were pain, easy fatigue, weakness, anorexia, lack of energy, dry mouth, constipation, early satiety, dyspnea, and greater than 10% weight loss. The prevalence of these 10 symptoms ranged from 50% to 84%. Younger age was associated with 11 symptoms: blackout, vomiting, pain, nausea, headache, sedation, bloating, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, and constipation. Gender was associated with 8 symptoms. Males had more dysphagia, hoarseness, >10% weight loss and sleep problems; females, more early satiety, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety. Performance status was associated with 14 symptoms. Advanced cancer patients are polysymptomatic. Ten symptoms are highly prevalent. Symptom prevalence for 24 individual symptoms differs with age, or gender, or performance status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Palliative Care
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires