The MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) is a multi-symptom patient reported outcome (PRO) that is used to assess the severity of the cancer patients’ symptoms and the interference with daily living caused by those symptoms.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a term that many of us are familiar with and the name given to a collection of related diseases.  In all types of cancer some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues in the body. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. The cancer types are typically named after the part of the body that has been impacted. For example, skin cancer is a body of cells that impacts the skin. According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2018 an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease. Cancer has a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.  


MDASI can assess both symptom severity and symptom interference with daily life. This can be used broadly across all cancer types and treatments and can be adapted to specific cancer types if needed.  A 0-10 scale is used and is easy for patients to understand and the questionnaire takes less than 5 minutes to complete. It can also be easily translated into other languages as needed.


MDASI is not easy to identify changes over time. The symptoms could be related to patient disease improvement but there is not a clear way to tell.  It is important to address whether changes in MDASI scores are reflective of disease progression or the side effects of treatment, which is something that may even be difficult for the patient to differentiate.  

To learn more about MD Anderson and the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory: 

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center holds the copyright to the MDASI.  Permission is required to use MDASI for any reason. For more information visit  or


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