New research shows physical symptoms may predict survival in patients with deadly cancers. Study results show physical symptoms, such as nausea and shortness of breath, predicted shorter survival rates in these patients.
Researchers say shortness of breath increased the risk of death by 50 percent for all patients studied. Those who reported nausea and vomiting at the early stages of their terminal cancer had nearly a 70-percent increased risk of death. Breast cancer patients who reported experiencing weakness had a five-fold increased risk of death, and those with colorectal cancer and weakness had a three-fold increased risk.
Although physical symptoms were a strong predictor of prognosis, researchers say clinical and tumor characteristics were more accurate predictors. Also, psychosocial factors, such as anxiety or spiritual stress, did not predict a shorter survival in the patients studied.
Researchers say their findings indicate that patients presenting with chronic nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, and weakness are more advanced in the progress toward the terminal wasting associated with cancer than patients who do not present these symptoms.