Physical symptom profile for adult cancer inpatients at a Lebanese cancer unit

Racha Halawi, Ehab Saad Aldin, Atallah Baydoun, Haifaa Dbouk, Zeina Nahleh, Zeina Nasser, Arafat Tfayli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Hospital-based palliative care programs in Lebanon are nonexistent in a structured form. One of obstacles is the lack of knowledge about symptom prevalence and burden of cancer patients in Lebanon. Methods: This is a cross-sectional observational study where 100 adult cancer patients admitted to the American University of Beirut Medical Center inpatient unit completed a survey to assess 20 physical symptoms according the National Cancer Institute's Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events 4.0 (NCI-CTCAE 4.0) guidelines. Results: Hematologic, gastrointestinal, breast, and lung cancers were the most common. Mean age was 51.5 years; 51% were female. 74% of patients with solid tumors had metastatic disease. Treatment approaches were palliative chemotherapy, followed by curative chemotherapy and best supportive care. The most common symptoms were fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, and pain; most distressing were nausea, pain, and fatigue. Nausea and vomiting were more prevalent among females than males. Females reported more severe vomiting than males, but males had more intense pain. Overall symptom burden difference was statistically significant across age groups, with the 51-60 year group having the most symptoms, but not among different genders. Difference was significant among different treatment intents, with the best supportive care group having most symptoms. Conclusion: Fatigue should be better addressed as a legitimate symptom. Subgroup differences must be considered when managing gastrointestinal symptoms. Pain should be more effectively managed, and vulnerable subgroups such as the 51-60 year age group and those on best supportive care should receive special consideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e185-e189
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Lebanon
  • Palliative care
  • Physical symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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