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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Quality of life assessment as a predictor of survival in non-small cell lung cancer

Donald P Braun, Digant Gupta* and Edgar D Staren

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Cancer Treatment Centers of America® at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, Zion, IL, 60099, USA

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:353  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-353

Published: 15 August 2011



There are conflicting and inconsistent results in the literature on the prognostic role of quality of life (QoL) in cancer. We investigated whether QoL at admission could predict survival in lung cancer patients.


The study population consisted of 1194 non-small cell lung cancer patients treated at our institution between Jan 2001 and Dec 2008. QoL was evaluated using EORTC-QLQ-C30 prior to initiation of treatment. Patient survival was defined as the time interval between the date of first patient visit and the date of death from any cause/date of last contact. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression evaluated the prognostic significance of QoL.


Mean age at presentation was 58.3 years. There were 605 newly diagnosed and 589 previously treated patients; 601 males and 593 females. Stage of disease at diagnosis was I, 100; II, 63; III, 348; IV, 656; and 27 indeterminate. Upon multivariate analyses, global QoL as well as physical function predicted patient survival in the entire study population. Every 10-point increase in physical function was associated with a 10% increase in survival (95% CI = 6% to 14%, p < 0.001). Similarly, every 10-point increase in global QoL was associated with a 9% increase in survival (95% CI = 6% to 11%, p < 0.001). Furthermore, physical function, nausea/vomiting, insomnia, and diarrhea (p < 0.05 for all) in newly diagnosed patients, but only physical function (p < 0.001) in previously treated patients were predictive of survival.


Baseline global QoL and physical function provide useful prognostic information in non-small cell lung cancer patients.