A study looking at ways of helping doctors work out how long someone with cancer is likely to live (IPAC)

Cancer type:

All cancer types
Secondary cancers





This study looked at different factors to see if doctors can predict how long someone with advanced cancer Open a glossary item is likely to live. This is called their prognosis.

The study was open for people to join between 2013 and 2014. The team published the results in 2019.

More about this trial

People with advanced cancer often want to know how long they are likely to live. This is hard to predict. Doctors try to give as accurate an idea as possible, but it is not easy. 

In this study, researchers wanted to find out how certain factors link together. 

They looked at several factors including:

  • the clinician predictive survival (CPS) tool
  • physical ability (sometimes called performance status)
  • physical symptoms such as shortness of breath or weight loss
  • difficulty remembering things or concentrating (cognitive impairment)
  • their quality of life
  • levels of white blood cells, including neutrophils and lymphocytes
  • levels of certain proteins in the blood 

Together, the measurement of certain proteins in the blood is called the modified Glasgow prognostic score (mGPS).

The team then looked at how many people were living 3 months and 6 months later. They looked to see if there were any links between the different factors and how long people lived.

The main aim of the study was to try to find out the best way to predict how long someone is likely to live. 

Summary of results

A total of 563 people joined this study. The research team have results for 478 of them. The people taking part had a number of different cancers including lung, bowel and breast cancer.

The team looked at performance status (PS). The results showed that people with a worse PS often lived for less time than those with a better PS. But they found that it was important to look at the modified Glasgow prognostic score (mGPS) as well. 

People with a better performance status may do less well, and have a lower quality of life, if they have a poor mGPS.

The results also showed that there was less of a link between people’s prognosis and other factors such as:

  • weight loss
  • shortness of breath 
  • difficulty remembering things or concentrating (cognitive impairment)

The team concluded that using a combination of performance status and mGPS was the best way to try and predict how long people would live.

They suggest that doctors could use this information to decide the best time to refer people to palliative care services.

More detailed information
There is more information about this research in the reference below. 

Please note, the information we link to here is not in plain English. It has been written for healthcare professionals and researchers.

“How Long Have I Got?”—A Prospective Cohort Study Comparing Validated Prognostic Factors for Use in Patients with Advanced Cancer  
C Simmons and others
The Oncologist, 2019. Volume 24, issue 9, pages e960–e967.

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on the information in the article above. This has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. We have not analysed the data ourselves. As far as we are aware, the link we list above is active and the article is free and available to view.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Barry Laird

Supported by

Medical Research Scotland
NHS Lothian
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University of Edinburgh

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 9659

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials in the UK last year.

Last reviewed:

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