The aim of the study was to explore the development of functioning impairments and symptom occurrence during the last months of life of advanced cancer patients. Self-reported data from 116 patients who all completed the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-C30) at 3, 2 and 1 month before death were analysed. All functioning aspects deteriorated. For physical, cognitive and social function, the most marked changes occurred between 2 and 1 month before death. The proportion reporting serious difficulties with self-care activities increased from 14% to 43%. The most seriously affected activity could not be distinguished from the EORTC QLQ-C30 scores. Levels of fatigue, dyspnoea and appetite loss increased significantly. More than 50% of the patients had severe pain at all assessments, and only a minor number (8%) reported any improvement. The findings have implications for the planning of care and indicate that further research is required to improve assessment, treatment and follow-up procedures. Adequate pain treatment seems still to be a challenge. Anorexia, fatigue as well as dyspnoea are all symptoms that need further focus.
- Self-assessment questionnaires
- EORTC QLQ-C30
- Palliative care
- Health-related quality of life
- End of life