Phillip Soita, Lister Onsongo, Elizabeth Ambani



Background: Patients with cancer and those undergoing treatment experience multiple symptoms which often occur together and interact with each other leading to a high symptom burden which influences the patients’ well-being hence low quality of life (QoL). The study determined the quality of life  and symptom burden among cancer patients undergoing treatment.

Method: A descriptive correlational study was conducted among 168 patients  enrolled in the study. Patients with different types of cancer in an oncology unit of a tertiary level hospital completed the Modified Version of the Memorial symptom assessment scale and interviewer administered Quality of Life (QOL) questionnaire.

Findings: The most severe symptoms reported were pain, fatigue and lack of appetite. Most common type of cancer was breast cancer with most patients at an advanced cancer stage. Average QoL score was 70.3 which is a moderate QoL score. There was significant difference in education level (p =0.012), marital status (p=0.039), income (p =0.011), cancer stage (p =0.020) and treatment type in relation to QoL. There was negative association between symptom burden and QoL. Type of treatment(p=0.0035) and symptom burden(p=0.0001) were independent predictors of QoL.

Conclusion: Results for this study show that patients with lower education levels, with an income of less than £30, those at an advanced stage cancer on chemo-radiation and have been on treatment for more than six months had a decreased QoL score. Comprehensive patient assessment tools need to be developed, care giver education on early detection and patient support should be provided during the treatment period.

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