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What is Performance Status for Cancer

Updated on July 24, 2011

ECOG, Karnofsky, Lansky, Zubrod, and WHO PS

Performance status (PS) is a simple measure of a person’s health performance and well being based on guidelines generally followed by physicians. The doctor records a number to indicate how capable a person is of performing activities of daily living.

This number is recorded as a way to quantify how a person feels and how active a person is. PS is used in clinical oncology research as one way of measuring how effective a treatment is and assessing how the patients’ disease is progressing.

PS scales have been published in a variety of ways such as Zubrod, Karnofsky, ECOG, WHO, and Lansky. Comparison of these scales is relatively similar.

Use the comparison table criteria below to help you determine a performance status.

Comparison Table

ECOG / WHO / Zubrod
Zubrod 0
Karnofsky 90-100
Normally Active
Zubrod 1
Karnofsky 70-80
Symptoms but ambulatory where strenuous physical activity is restricted
Zubrod 2
Karnofsky 50-60
In bed less than 50 percent of the time. Capable of all self-care
Zubrod 3
Karnofsky 30-40
In bed more than 50 percent of the time. Capable of only limited self-care.
Zubrod 4
Karnofsky 10-20
Completely disabled and bedridden.


*Oken MM, Creech RH, Tormey DC, et al (1982). "Toxicity and response criteria of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group". Am. J. Clin. Oncol. 5 (6): 649–55

Consult your health care professional if you have any questions.

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    • Roseann Cole profile image

      Roseann Cole 6 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks JLbowden. Many people have never heard of performance status before, but it is an important tool that many doctors use world-wide.

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello Roseann:

      Very informative article about PS for cancer. I found this to be interesting as well and did not know that there was a table that physician's follow to rate someones performance, from an oncological perspective. Again good information, which I can relate to working within the pharmaceutical industry. Good luck with all of your writing here on hubpages and thanks for sharing this article.