Malignant Ascites: Validation of a Novel Ascites Symptom Mini-Scale for Use in Patients With Ovarian Cancer

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Abstract

Background

Ascites is a common finding in patients with ovarian cancer. Paracentesis is a relatively simple, safe, and effective procedure for draining fluid from the peritoneum, but valid quality-of-life tools are needed to determine its subjective value for alleviating symptoms and improving patient quality of life. The objective of this study was to prospectively evaluate the performance of a novel Ascites Symptom Mini-Scale (ASmS) and compare it with a previously available questionnaire.

Methods

Patients with ovarian cancer–related ascites presenting for paracentesis were asked to complete the newly devised ASmS before the procedure and 1 and 24 hours after. Patients also completed a pain assessment scale and a previously validated ascites questionnaire at the same time points.

Results

The cohort included 28 patients of median age 68 years (range, 51–86 years), 13 (46.4%) with primary ovarian cancer and 15 with recurrent disease. A median of 3300 mL of ascites was drained. The median score on the ASmS decreased significantly from 21.5 before paracentesis to 11.0 at 1 hour after paracentesis (P < 0.001) and remained low at 24 hours. No demographic factor predicted greater benefit from the procedure. Patients with both mild and severe symptoms reported significant relief.

Conclusions

The ASmS is a robust quality-of-life tool for the specific assessment of symptoms of ovarian cancer–related malignant ascites. It can be used in the clinical trial setting assessing interventions aimed at treating ascites and in the clinic to identify those patients with mild symptoms, who may benefit from paracentesis.

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