Recent progress in improving quality of life in cancer patients
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The importance of assessing and maintaining quality of life (QOL) in cancer patients is now well appreciated. The development of standardized instruments, such as the measurement system from the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30, the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT) scale and the various anaemia-specific questionnaires for quantifying patients’ QOL, has led to the emergence of QOL measures in clinical studies to aid in assessing new treatments. Recommendations for appropriate management of common cancer-related symptoms, such as pain, depression, fatigue, and nausea and vomiting, are described in this paper. Depression may be difficult to diagnose due to the overlap of symptoms from the cancer as well as cancer therapy, but it does respond well to treatment. However, the single most important cause of QOL deficit in cancer patients is fatigue. This is clearly multifactorial, but we are now able to assess the component associated with anaemia and its relief can lead to improvements in QOL in cancer patients. There are many potential causes of QOL deficit in cancer patients and it is prudent that clinicians frequently monitor QOL during the course of the disease and treatment, while actively preventing and treating the relevant symptoms.
Keywordscancer quality of life depression fatigue anaemia
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