A recent study examined symptom distress in children living with advanced cancer, and found that a majority experience high symptom distress.
The PediQUEST (Evaluation of Pediatric Quality of Life and Evaluation of Symptoms Technology in Children with Cancer) study used patient-recorded outcomes (PROs) to evaluate distress in the patients with cancer.
The study authors, led by Joanne Wolfe, Division Chief, of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, gathered information from 104 children with advanced cancer using the PediQUEST Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (PQ-MSAS).
Treatment data were obtained from medical records and the patents' symptom scores broken into high- and low distress categorization.
The PQ-MSAS was administered a total of 920 times; 212 times for children of age 2 through 6 years, 249 times for children of age 7 through 12 years, and 459 times for teenaged children.
The teens self-reported, whereas the younger children utilized either a parent/child report (for the middle-range group) or a parental assessment. Symptoms seen most often included pain (46%) and fatigue (46%), and drowsiness and irritability were also reported with high frequency (39 and 37%, respectively).
Factors that were associated with the worst symptom scores were female gender, having a brain tumor, and recent high- or moderate-intensity cancer-directed therapy.
Children with advanced cancer experience high symptom distress. Strategies to promote intensive symptom management are indicated, especially with disease progression or administration of intensive treatments.