Distress Scores during a Course of Radiotherapy: A Pilot Study

Cansu Delikanli, Stefan Janssen, Dirk Keil, Søren Tvilsted, Steven E. Schild, Dirk Rades*

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Background/Aim: Many cancer patients receive radiotherapy, which may cause distress. This pilot study evaluated distress levels before and after radiotherapy to contribute to the design of a prospective trial. Patients and Methods: Two-hundred patients completed distress thermometers before and after radiotherapy. Distress levels ranged from 0 (no distress) to 10 (maximum distress). Five characteristics were retrospectively analyzed regarding changes of distress including age, sex, performance score, tumor type, previous radiotherapy, and treatment intention. Additional analyses were performed for elderly (>65 years) and non-elderly (≤65 years) patients. Results: In all patients and both age groups, median pre-radiotherapy and post-radiotherapy distress levels were 5 (0-10) vs. 4 (0-10) points. Mean changes of distress levels were –0.5 (±2.6) points in all, –0.4 (±2.5) in elderly, and –0.7 (±2.8) in non-elderly patients. Changes were significantly associated with tumor type in all (p=0.049) and elderly (p=0.025) patients. Conclusion: Future studies investigating distress levels in patients receiving radiotherapy should consider age and tumor type.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)5561-5566
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 11.2022


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