Personalized symptom goal (PSG) response allowed clinicians to tailor treatment goals while adjusting for individual differences in interpretation and factors associated with symptom response, according to a study published in Cancer.1

Investigators sought to examine the PSG for 10 common symptoms in patients with advanced cancer and identified factors associated with PSG response.

A total of 728 patients were enrolled in the prospective, longitudinal, multicenter study. Patients rated the intensity of the 10 symptoms using a rating scale of 0 to 10 at their first clinic visit and then again at a second visit 14 to 34 days later. PSG was determined by asking patients, “At what level would you feel comfortable with this symptom?” PSG response was defined as symptom intensity at the time of second visit that was less than or equal to the PSG.

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Results showed that the median PSG for nausea was 1; depression, anxiety, drowsiness, well-being, dyspnea, and sleep were 2; pain, fatigue and appetite were 3.

With the exception of drowsiness, a greater percentage of patients achieved PSG response at their second visit compared with the first (P < .05).

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“Symptom response was associated with lower baseline symptom intensity based on PSG criterion but higher baseline symptom intensity based on the traditional minimal clinically important difference definition (P < .001 for all symptoms,” the authors wrote.

Multivariate analysis revealed that greater PSG response was associated with higher PSG and nationality. Most patients had a PSG of ≤ 3.


  1. Hui D, Park M, Shamieh O, et al. Personalized symptom goals and response in patients with advanced cancer [published online ahead of print March 11, 2016]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29970.