Assessment tool :Quality of life in Canine Cancer patients

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
June 15, 2013, Vol. 242, No. 12, Pages 1679-1687
doi: 10.2460/javma.242.12.1679

Development of a survey instrument to assess health-related quality of life in small animal cancer patients treated with chemotherapy
Maria A. Iliopoulou, DVM, MS; Barbara E. Kitchell, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan, PhD
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and the Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. (Iliopoulou, Kitchell, Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan)

This manuscript represents a portion of a thesis submitted by Dr. Iliopoulou to Michigan State University as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Science degree.

Presented in abstract form at the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists-American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Veterinary Behavior Symposium, St Louis, July 2011.
Address correspondence to Dr. Iliopoulou (

Objective—To develop a quality of life (QOL) survey for use in a canine cancer chemotherapy setting, validate the instrument’s utility, identify key questions that facilitate client and clinician communication regarding decisions in patient care, and use human and veterinary QOL literature to develop a comprehensive yet simple proxy survey instrument.


Animals—29 canine chemotherapy patients.

Procedures—Patients were evaluated by both owners and veterinarians at the time of initial visit to the clinic and at 3 and 6 weeks after the initiation of chemotherapy. This survey consisted of a longitudinal evaluation of QOL with 6 components addressing the animal’s QOL retrospectively, before onset of cancer; changes in the animal’s QOL since manifestation of disease; changes in the animal’s QOL with regard to treatment response; owner’s QOL and its impact on priorities in decision making; clinician’s impression of the owner’s priorities and QOL; and clinician’s impression of the dog’s QOL.

Results—Multiple regression analysis indicated 3 significant predictors of canine cancer patient QOL to be play behaviors, signs of illness, and canine happiness as perceived by owners.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The QOL instrument was easy to use and enhanced client perception of patient care and clinician concern. Owners enjoyed the opportunity to complete the survey. Since questions regarding play behaviors, clinical signs of disease, and canine happiness were significant indicators of changes in QOL, these should be included in future studies. Quality of life assessment may facilitate treatment decisions and assessment of canine patients undergoing chemotherapy.