Palliative performance status, heart rate and respiratory rate as predictive factors of survival time in terminally ill cancer patients

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2006 Jun;31(6):485-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2005.10.007.


To determine which symptoms, signs, and characteristics that define the patient's functional status predict the survival time in terminally ill cancer patients, a prospective longitudinal study was conducted with terminally ill cancer patients followed by a Home Care Support Team. Patients were followed up with at least weekly visits until death, collecting variables at each visit. A Cox multivariate regression analysis took into account all the follow-ups in the same patient. Ninety-eight patients were studied, and 250 evaluations were done. The mean age was 72 years. The median survival was 32 days. In the multivariate analysis, three independent variables were identified: Palliative Performance Score of 50 or under, heart rate of 100/minute or more, and respiratory rate of 24/minute or more. The variables that were found to be prognostic in our study are objective, easy, and quick to measure, and do not require that the professional have special training or experience. The prediction of survival time may be improved by considering these variables.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Karnofsky Performance Status
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Palliative Care
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Respiration
  • Survival Rate
  • Terminally Ill*