Symptom assessment

Your cancer care team needs to know about your symptoms and other concerns so that they can help you maintain and improve your quality of life. You can tell your cancer care team about your symptoms by completing a questionnaire called the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS). 

The questionnaire asks you to rate 9 symptoms that are common to cancer patients on a scale of 0 to 10. 0 means the symptom is absent and 10 means it is the worst possible. You should complete the questionnaire at every clinic appointment.

You can learn more about ESAS by using the related resources on the right side of this page.

Doing your symptom assessment 

At the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario at Kingston General Hospital: 

  • You will use touch screen kiosks in the waiting areas to complete your symptom assessment. 
  • Please use a kiosk before you register for your appointment.
  • The kiosks are easy to use. No computer skills are needed. Volunteers in the waiting area can show you how to use the kiosks and will be there to help you.
  • You will rate your symptoms by tapping the computer screen. 
  • When you are done rating your symptoms, your results will print at the kiosk. 
  • Please bring the printed sheet into your appointment.

At all other hospitals:

  • You will be given a paper copy of the questionnaire when you register for your appointment.
  • You should complete the questionnaire while you wait for your appointment.
  • Please bring your completed questionnaire to your appointment.

Using your symptom assessment

A member of your cancer care team should ask you about the results of your symptom assessment at every appointment. Tell your cancer care team how you are feeling. Let them know your concerns and what is affecting your quality of life.

Your cancer care team will look at how your symptoms at your current appointment compare with your symptoms at previous appointments. Understanding how your symptoms are changing and what symptoms are most bothering you helps your cancer care team find the best ways to relieve your symptoms.

If you are not asked about your symptoms, point out your symptom scores when you talk with your cancer care team. This will make sure you are working together to help manage your symptoms.