BACKGROUND: To investigate the prognostic value of quality of life (QOL) relative to tumour marker carbohydrate antigen (CA) 19-9, and the role of CA 19-9 in estimating palliation in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer receiving chemotherapy. METHODS: CA 19-9 serum concentration was measured at baseline and every 3 weeks in a phase III trial (SAKK 44/00-CECOG/PAN.1.3.001). Patients scored QOL indicators at baseline, and before each administration of chemotherapy (weekly or bi-weekly) for 24 weeks or until progression. Prognostic factors were investigated by Cox models, QOL during chemotherapy by mixed-effect models. RESULTS: Patient-rated pain (P<0.02) and tiredness (P<0.03) were independent predictors for survival, although less prognostic than CA 19-9 (P<0.001). Baseline CA 19-9 did not predict QOL during chemotherapy, except for a marginal effect on pain (P<0.05). Mean changes in physical domains across the whole observation period were marginally correlated with the maximum CA 19-9 decrease. Patients in a better health status reported the most improvement in QOL within 20 days before maximum CA 19-9 decrease. They indicated substantially less pain and better physical well-being, already, early on during chemotherapy with a maximum CA 19-9 decrease of >= 50% vs <50%. CONCLUSION: In advanced pancreatic cancer, pain and tiredness are independent prognostic factors for survival, although less prognostic than CA 19-9. Quality of life improves before best CA 19-9 response but the maximum CA 19-9 decrease has no impact on subsequent QOL. To estimate palliation by chemotherapy, patient's perception needs to be taken into account.
MEDICIN OCH HÄLSOVETENSKAP -- Klinisk medicin -- Cancer och onkologi (hsv//swe)
MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES -- Clinical Medicine -- Cancer and Oncology (hsv//eng)