Elderly patients with cancer cachexia experience different levels of symptom burden when compared to middle-aged and young patients

AdultsOlder AdultsNutritionExerciseCancer Cachexia
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Introduction: Cancer cachexia is a syndrome characterized by muscle wasting and carries a heavy symptom burden. It is currently unknown whether or not elderly patients have similar symptom burden, nutritional issues, and distress as younger patients. The aim of this study is to provide critical information on the status of elderly cancer patients with cachexia and compare differences between patients considered as young (Y; < 50 y), middle-aged (M; 50 - 69 y), and elderly (E; ≥ 70 y).

Methods: To appropriately assess the status of young (n=18), middle-aged (n=106), and elderly patients (n=101), a retrospective chart review has been performed on data collected from the Distress Thermometer (DT) and accompanying Canadian Problem Checklist (CPC), the revised Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-r) questionnaire and the abridged Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment (aPG-SGA). A 1x3 ANOVA was conducted on the dependent variables among the age ranges.

Results: Overall, the E patients expressed significantly (p<0.05) less worry about finances, work/school than the Y and M but had greater (p<0.05) worries about coping issues when compared to the M group. The E patients had significantly lower spiritual domain scores (e.g., meaning and purpose of life) than the Y group. With respect to the ESAS-r, the E group felt less nauseated than the Y group (E, 1.77±2.86 vs Y, 3.61±3.50). There were no group differences with respect to the distress thermometer or the aPG-SGA. Conclusion: Elderly cancer patients with cachexia experience different symptom burden than young and middle-aged patients. These age-related disparities should be considered when conducting patient assessments and specialized treatment


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