The Impact of Baseline Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale Scores on Treatment and Survival in Patients With Advanced Non-small-cell Lung Cancer

Sharon F. McGee, Tinghua Zhang, Hannah Jonker, Scott A. Laurie, Glen Goss, Garth Nicholas, Khalid Albaimani, Paul Wheatley-Price*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Palliative systemic therapy is frequently underutilized in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), for many reasons. The aim of this study was to identify patient-reported factors that may predict for treatment decisions and survival in advanced NSCLC, using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), which is a self-reported questionnaire that quantifies symptom burden by asking patients to rate the severity of 9 common symptoms. Patients and Methods: With ethics approval, we analyzed ESAS scores at initial oncology consultation for 461 patients with advanced NSCLC seen at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre from 2009 to 2012. Subgroup analysis was performed to determine if treatment strategies or overall survival (OS) were related to the total symptom burden, as defined by the sum of the individual ESAS symptom scores. Results: The severity of the ESAS total symptom burden score was positively correlated with Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (R = 0.48; P < .0001). Furthermore, patients with a higher symptom burden were less likely to receive systemic chemotherapy than those with fewer symptoms (43% vs. 66%; P < .0001), and had a significantly reduced OS (5.5 vs. 9.9 months; P < .0001). A higher ESAS symptom burden score was also associated with reduced OS by univariate analysis (hazard ratio, 1.78; 95% confidence interval, 1.45-2.18; P < .0001), although multivariate analysis showed only a trend towards significance (hazard ratio, 1.27; 95% confidence interval, 0.99-1.62; P = .06). Conclusions: Overall, this demonstrates a novel role for the ESAS as a prognostic tool that could complement existing patient assessment models, such as Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, in the development of optimal treatment plans and estimation of survival, in patients with advanced lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Lung Cancer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Overall survival
  • Performance status
  • Symptom burden
  • Systemic chemotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research


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