Does age matter in palliative care?

S.C.C.M. Teunissen, H. de Haes, E.E. Voest, A. de Graeff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


PURPOSE: To assess whether age has an impact on symptoms, problems and needs of hospitalized advanced cancer patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A prospective analysis of 181 patients referred to a Palliative Care Team was done using a standardized list of symptoms, problems and needs. Differences between 3 age groups (<60; 60-70; > or =70) were analyzed.

RESULTS: Patients > or =70 years had a significantly different prevalence of depressed mood (48% versus 13% of patients 60-70 years and 24% of patients <60 years, p=0.002), urinary tract problems (20% versus 3% versus 8%, p=0.024) and drowsiness (18% versus 42% versus 25%, p=0.039). They expressed more problems with a shortage of informal caregivers (45% versus 42% versus 17%, p<0.001) and less need for support in coping (40% versus 61% versus 63%, p=0.043), relational support (3% versus 8% versus 14%, p=0.019) and support in communication (0% versus 8% versus 11%, p=0.013).

CONCLUSION: Fewer differences than expected were found. Elderly cancer patients admitted to a hospital have more or less the same symptoms, problems and needs as their younger counterparts. Despite these findings, age-specific assessment of symptoms, problems and needs ought to be part of optimal symptom management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-158
Number of pages7
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology Hematology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Neoplasms
  • Palliative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Terminal Care


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