Symptom relief and quality of life after stenting for malignant bile duct obstruction.
Palliative treatment is appropriate for most patients with cancer of the head of pancreas. Insertion of a biliary stent relieves jaundice and pruritus but it is not known if stenting affects other symptoms or changes the quality of life. Nineteen patients have completed a standard questionnaire to assess symptom relief and quality of life after stent insertion. After stenting there was complete relief of jaundice and pruritus. Furthermore, there was also considerable improvement in anorexia and indigestion. All patients had anorexia before stent insertion, this was moderate/severe in 13 (68.4%). Anorexia was significantly better (p < 0.01) a week after stenting and this benefit was maintained at 12 weeks (p < 0.01). Sixteen (84.2%) patients complained of indigestion before stenting, moderate/severe in 11 (57.9%). This was significantly better (p < 0.01) a week after stenting with complete relief in six at eight weeks (p < 0.01). Fifteen (78.9%) felt that their mood was good/very good before stent insertion and this was unchanged even at the 12 week assessment. A similar result was obtained for physical health and level of activity. In conclusion stent insertion not only relieves jaundice and pruritus in these patients but also improves other symptoms and quality of life. The considerable improvement in appetite after stenting was of particular benefit.
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