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Symptom prevalence, frequency, severity, and distress during chemotherapy for patients with colorectal cancer
Onkologisk vårdenhet, Ryhovs länssjukhus, Jönköping.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Nursing Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1588-135X
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Division of Health, Activity and Care. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Nursing Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Center for Surgery, Orthopaedics and Cancer Treatment, Department of Oncology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9786-7326
2014 (English)In: Supportive Care in Cancer, ISSN 0941-4355, E-ISSN 1433-7339, Vol. 22, no 5, 1171-1179 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Early detection and improvements in treatment have increased survival after colorectal cancer (CRC), but studies investigating the multidimensional nature of treatment-related symptoms are rare. The aim of this study was therefore to describe the prevalence, frequency, and severity of symptoms and the distress they cause during the early treatment of patients with CRC undergoing chemotherapy.


Consecutive outpatients were asked to rate their symptoms during cycle 2 or 3 of chemotherapy, using the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale.


A total of 104 patients, 58 men and 46 women, evaluated their symptoms of the preceding week at one point during the treatment. The mean number of symptoms was 10.3 (SD, 7.7; range, 0–32). Highly prevalent symptoms were numbness/tingling in the hands/feet (64 %), lack of energy (62 %), feeling drowsy (49 %), and nausea (45 %). Symptoms with the highest scores for frequency, severity, and distress were lack of energy followed by difficulty in sleeping and numbness in the hands/feet. Lack of energy was noted as occurring almost constantly by 26 % and was rated as being severe or very severe by 12 % and as quite distressing or very distressing by 15 %.


This study shows that patients with CRC receiving chemotherapy experience several distressing symptoms early in the treatment phase. In order to provide symptom control, oncology staff should consider evaluating the patient’s symptoms early during treatment and plan adequate measures to minimize the impact of treatment-induced toxicity.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2014. Vol. 22, no 5, 1171-1179 p.
Keyword [en]
Symptoms, Symptomdistress, Colorectal cancer, Chemotherapy, MSAS
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106916DOI: 10.1007/s00520-013-2069-zISI: 000335774600004PubMedID: 24337684OAI: diva2:719556
Available from: 2014-05-26 Created: 2014-05-26 Last updated: 2014-06-12Bibliographically approved

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Berterö, CarinaUnosson, MitraBörjeson, Sussanne
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