Lung cancer is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage and survival has not improved inspite of several therapeutic advancements. Since most patients depend on palliative care, it is imperative to evaluate and maintain a satisfactory quality of life in them. Several questionnaires, mostly in western languages, have been used for this purpose. However, Indian data on this aspect is sparse.
A 26-item WHO-Quality of Life - Bref questionnaire in Hindi was used to assess the quality of life in lung cancer patients. This questionnaire comprises four domains-Physical, Psychological, Social and Environmental.
A total of 76 patients were evaluated. 66 (86.8%) were males, had a mean age of 55.36 years; presented with cough (82.9%), dyspnea (72.4%), chest pain (65.8%), and haemoptysis (43.4%). Eight patients (10.5%) had superior venacaval obstruction. The mean duration of symptoms was 5.9 months. 89.5% had Non-Small Cell Cancer (NSCLC). The mean pack-years was 23.7. Most patients had Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) of 70 (52.6%).There was no significant correlation of any quality of life domain with age, sex, duration of symptoms, extent of smoking, cough, dyspnea, chest pain, hemoptysis or hemoglobin. The environmental domain correlated significantly with the serum albumin (p<0.016). The physical domain scores of patients with KPS of 80% correlated significantly with those having KPS of 70% and 60% (p < 0.001 and p < 0.003 respectively). The psychological domain scores of patients with KPS 80% correlated significantly with those having KPS 70% (p < 0.005).
Environmental factors influence nutritional status such as albumin levels. The Karnofsky Performance Scale is an important marker of assessing quality of life. It is a simple numerical tool that reliably predicts deteriorating quality of life, particularly the physical and psychological aspects.
Quality of life in lung cancer is not affected by age, sex, presence of symptoms and their duration or extent of smoking. Karnofsky Performance Scale is a useful surrogate marker of quality of life in these patients.
A. Mohan, None.