The Impact of Baseline Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale Scores on Treatment and Survival in Patients With Advanced Non–small-cell Lung Cancer

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Abstract

Background

Palliative systemic therapy is frequently underutilized in patients with advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), for many reasons. The aim of this study was to identify patient-reported factors that may predict for treatment decisions and survival in advanced NSCLC, using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), which is a self-reported questionnaire that quantifies symptom burden by asking patients to rate the severity of 9 common symptoms.

Patients and Methods

With ethics approval, we analyzed ESAS scores at initial oncology consultation for 461 patients with advanced NSCLC seen at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre from 2009 to 2012. Subgroup analysis was performed to determine if treatment strategies or overall survival (OS) were related to the total symptom burden, as defined by the sum of the individual ESAS symptom scores.

Results

The severity of the ESAS total symptom burden score was positively correlated with Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (R = 0.48; P < .0001). Furthermore, patients with a higher symptom burden were less likely to receive systemic chemotherapy than those with fewer symptoms (43% vs. 66%; P < .0001), and had a significantly reduced OS (5.5 vs. 9.9 months; P < .0001). A higher ESAS symptom burden score was also associated with reduced OS by univariate analysis (hazard ratio, 1.78; 95% confidence interval, 1.45-2.18; P < .0001), although multivariate analysis showed only a trend towards significance (hazard ratio, 1.27; 95% confidence interval, 0.99-1.62; P = .06).

Conclusions

Overall, this demonstrates a novel role for the ESAS as a prognostic tool that could complement existing patient assessment models, such as Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, in the development of optimal treatment plans and estimation of survival, in patients with advanced lung cancer.

Micro-Abstract

The rate of receipt of systemic therapy in advanced lung cancer is low. Here, we used the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale to identify patient-reported factors that may contribute to this. Results found that patients with a higher symptom burden were less likely to receive chemotherapy and had a reduced overall survival. Targeted intervention of these symptoms could help improve both quality of life and performance status.

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