Analysis of Research: Using Pulse Oximetry in Prognosis of Lung Cancer

Performance status is used by medical oncologists as a proxy for Quality of Life. The reason is that it takes a lot of time to complete the testing instruments of QOL which can reflect aspects of Quality of Life that are not otherwise affected by cancer therapy in case of Lung Cancer. One way to give better prognosis in lung cancer patients after resection is through Pulse Oximetry. A research (conducted by Martins et al.) evaluated the use of Lung Cancer Symptom Scale and pulse oximetry for the assessment of patients suffering from lung cancer after their therapy has concluded.

For this research, 41 patients who suffered from consecutive and newly diagnosed stages of advanced or metastatic cancer were interviewed. After this, a survival model was constructed. This model particularly included variables of:

  • Age 
  • Histology
  • Karnofsky performance status
  • LCSS symptom scores
  • Pulse oximetry result
  • Wasting
  • Clinical stage of cancer
  • Gender
  • Average symptom burden index
The research was concluded with the result that there was a significant correlation between patient and observer–rated scores. There was an exception to the fatigue scale, which is a part of the index. The middle point of oxygen saturation scores calculated through pulse oximetry was found to be 95, indicating 95% oxygen saturation. This was deemed to be unrelated to other symptom scores. There was a weak correlation of SpO2 scores and the patient’s coughing score as well.

Another analysis was made through the multivariate model which indicated pulse oximetry scores to be greater than 90%. Additionally, the factors of patient scores on the LCSS appetite and fatigue subscales (part of the index) were reported to be independent predictive factors of survival.

However, it is notable that researchers acknowledged the fact that there are shortcomings of the usage of oxygen saturation measures as a proxy measure of a careful estimate of SaO2 in patients who are suffering from lung cancer. Additionally, the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is also frequently present in patients suffering from lung cancer. In this condition, it is highly probable that SpO2 may not be accurately indicative of arterial oxygen saturation.

Oximetry testing is a convenient measure for testing oxygen saturation in many lung-related diseases. The simple mechanism of the device is helpful in the clear analysis of the patient’s functioning and condition. There are very limited and fewer chances of the results getting manipulated or being interfered with in any manner.

This is the reason why many tests related to respiratory functioning involve pulse oximetry testing as a proxy measure for better, concise, and reliable analysis. It gives strength to the results, making them convenient for prognosis and future medication strategies.