Symptom Distress in Older Adults Following Cancer Surgery

Janet H. Van Cleave, PhD, RN; Brian L. Egleston, PhD; Elizabeth Ercolano, DNSc, RN; Ruth McCorkle, PhD, RN


Cancer Nurs. 2013;36(4):292-300. 

In This Article


We conducted a study to explore factors related to symptom distress over time in older adults undergoing thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic cancer surgery. Our analyses generated findings that showed symptom distress significantly decreased over 6 months after cancer surgery, reflecting a typical postoperative course. Factors related to increased symptoms distress following surgery were type of cancer, number of comorbidities, mental health, and function. Our findings also showed that patients 75 years or older experienced greater symptom distress over time than did those aged 65 to 69 years. Patients with a diagnosis of digestive or thoracic cancer who have increased comorbidity burden, report worse mental health, or experience decreased function should undergo heightened surveillance for increasing symptom distress leading to morbidity. More research, though, is needed to clarify the relationship between age and symptom distress over time.