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09.01.2019 | Original Article

Neuropathic symptoms, physical and emotional well-being, and quality of life at the end of life

Supportive Care in Cancer
Cindy Tofthagen, Constance Visovsky, Sara Dominic, Susan McMillan
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The purpose of this cross-sectional, descriptive study was to assess differences in neuropathic symptoms, physical and emotional well-being, and quality of life in cancer patients at the end of life compared to those without neuropathic symptoms. Neuropathic symptoms were defined as numbness and tingling in the hands and/or feet. A secondary analysis of data from two hospices in Central Florida was performed. Adults (n = 717) with a cancer diagnosis, an identified family caregiver, and who were receiving hospice services, were eligible. The prevalence of numbness/tingling in the hands or feet was 40% in this sample of hospice patients with cancer. Participants with neuropathic symptoms of numbness/tingling had a significantly higher prevalence of pain (76.7% vs. 67.0%; p = .006), difficulty with urination (29.4% vs. 20.3%; p = .007), shortness of breath (64.9% vs. 54.1%; p = .005), dizziness/lightheadedness (46.0% vs. 28.2%; p < .001), sweats (35.5% vs. 20.3%; p < .001), worrying (50.7% vs. 37.3%; p = .001), feeling irritable (38.5% vs. 28.7%; p = .008), feeling sad (48.2% vs. 37.8%; p = .008), and difficulty concentrating (46.2% vs. 32.5%; p < .001). They also reported significantly higher overall symptom intensity and symptom distress scores (p = < .001), higher pain severity (p = .001) and pain distress (p = .002), and decreased quality of life (p = .002) compared to those without numbness/tingling. Neuropathic symptoms are emotionally distressing at the end of life and associated with higher symptom burden and diminished quality of life.

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