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Symptoms in children with advanced cancer: child and nurse reports

Journal title
Cancer nursing
Publication year
Van Cleve, L.; Munoz, C. E.; Savedra, M.; Riggs, M.; Bossert, E.; Grant, M.; Adlard, K.

BACKGROUND: Systematic studies on the specific symptom experience in children with advanced cancer are limited. OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to examine the common symptoms and to explore commonly occurring symptoms over time. METHODS: A prospective and longitudinal study design was used. Data were collected at 10 data points from 60 children over a 5-month period. Children ranged from 6 to 17 years old, spoke English or Spanish, were diagnosed with advanced cancer, and were receiving healthcare in 1 of 4 Southern California hospitals. Nurses’ documentations of symptoms were examined. RESULTS: The study sample was composed of children 6 to 12 years old (52%) and 13 to 17 years old (48%); 42% were female, and 58% were male. Fifty-five percent were Latino, and 30% were Caucasian. Pain, nausea, drowsiness, and energy loss were reported by children in more than 50% of the interviews. Children’s and nurses’ reports of symptoms were similar except children reported significantly more frequency and intensity of pain. CONCLUSION: Children with advanced cancer were able to report and describe their symptoms. There were few differences by gender, age, and ethnicity. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: It is important that children’s symptoms are clearly communicated to nurses, and these study findings may be used to anticipate and manage the symptoms experienced by children with advanced cancer.

Research abstracts