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Open Access Article
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Symptom Concerns and Quality of Life in Hepatobiliary Cancers

Virginia Sun
Betty Ferrell
Gloria Juarez
Lawrence D. Wagman
Yun Yen
Vincent Chung
ONF 2008, 35(3), E45-E52 DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.E45-E52

Purpose/Objectives: To describe the symptom concerns of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and pancreatic cancer and explore the effect of symptoms on patients' quality of life (QOL).

Design: Descriptive, longitudinal study.

Setting: Ambulatory clinics of a comprehensive cancer center.

Sample: 45 patients actively receiving treatment for either HCC or pancreatic cancer.

Methods: Patients were followed from baseline for three months, with outcome measures repeated monthly. Outcome measures included the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Hepatobiliary (FACT-Hep) and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spirituality Subscale (FACIT-Sp-12). Descriptive analysis of demographic, treatment, and symptom data was conducted, followed by two-way repeated measures analysis of variance of FACT-Hep and FACIT-Sp-12 scale scores by diagnosis and treatment type.

Main Research Variables: Symptoms, QOL.

Findings: Overall QOL is poor in patients with hepatobiliary cancer, and this trend continues over time. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, and poor appetite commonly are reported in this population.

Conclusions: Patients with hepatobiliary cancer suffer from multiple symptoms that may have a negative affect on overall QOL. Specific QOL domains, such as physical and functional well-being, are of particular concern for patients.

Implications for Nursing: The identification of specific symptom and QOL concerns in hepatobiliary cancers will enhance clinical care and aid in the future development of multidisciplinary interventions for this understudied cancer population.