Unifying Concepts

Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) Scale

The Karnofsky Performance Status Scale (KPS) was designed to measure the level of patient activity and medical care requirements. It is a general measure of patient independence and has been widely used as a general assessment of patient with cancer.

Karnofsky performance status scale

Value Level of functional capacity Definition
100 Normal, no complaints, no evidence of disease Able to carry on normal activity and to work; no special care needed
90 Able to carry on normal activity, minor signs or symptoms of disease
80 Normal activity with effort, some signs or symptoms of disease
70 Cares for self, unable to carry on normal activity or to do active work Unable to work; able to live at home and care for most personal needs; various degrees of assistance needed
60 Requires occasional assistance, but is able to care for most needs
50 Requires considerable assistance and frequent medical care
40 Disabled, requires special care and assistance Unable to care for self; requires equivalent of institutional or hospital care; disease may be progressing rapidly
30 Severely disabled, hospitalization is indicated although death is not imminent
20 Hospitalization is necessary, very sick, active supportive treatment necessary
10 Moribund, fatal processes progressing rapidly
0 Dead

The Karnofsky score runs from 100 to 0, where 100 is “perfect” health and 0 is death.



  1. Yates JW, Chalmer B, McKegney FP. Evaluation of patients with advanced cancer using the Karnofsky performance status. Cancer. 1980 Apr 15;45(8):2220-4. [Medline]
  2. Schag CC, Heinrich RL, Ganz PA. Karnofsky performance status revisited: reliability, validity, and guidelines. J Clin Oncol. 1984 Mar;2(3):187-93. [Medline]


Created: Jan 25, 2012

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