QOL assessment in oncology has made great strides in recent years. There was a difficult time initially, during which QOL tools were "thrown in" to many clinical trials as an afterthought, without a pre-specified scientific question. As expected from such a scattershot approach, the results were underwhelming and disappointing. The disappointing results from this period led many practitioners to question the value added by QOL assessment in oncology clinical trials. This healthy skepticism has led to a renaissance period, in which situation-specific and disease-specific QOL assessments have been developed and have contributed substantial information to the cause of the disease, the effects of treatments, and the experiences of cancer patients. Today, there is a dawning recognition that asking the patient directly about their QOL using the same scientific rigor required of other clinical outcomes can provide valuable data for prognosis, treatment, symptom management, and supportive care. With time and further successful experiences like those cited in this article, QOL assessment may eventually become as routinely collected and integrated into oncology clinical practice as pain and blood pressure assessments are today.
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