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Describing Symptom Burden and Functional Status at the Diagnosis of Leptomeningeal Metastasis

Julie Walker
Barbara O’Brien
Elizabeth Vera
Terri Armstrong
ONF 2018, 45(3), 372-379 DOI: 10.1188/18.ONF.372-379

Objectives: To investigate the associations of primary cancer, tumor characteristics, and cancer treatment with symptom burden and functional status.

Sample & Setting: 52 patients with leptomeningeal metastasis (LM) at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Methods & Variables: Records of 52 patients were reviewed, and presenting symptoms were recorded. Mean differences in number and specific symptoms and functional status were explored. Correlations between age and overall number of symptoms with specific symptoms were assessed with Pearson correlations.

Results: Pain was the most frequently reported symptom. Hormonal ablation therapy within six months of LM diagnosis was associated with a higher number of symptoms. Receiving biotherapy more than six months prior to an LM diagnosis was associated with pain, and cerebrospinal fluid leukocytosis was associated with a poor Karnofsky Performance Status score.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses caring for patients with advanced cancer can help ensure the highest possible quality of life by obtaining a careful history, assessing symptoms, and noting any changes since the last encounter.

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