Skip to Content

Charles S. Cleeland, PhD

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

McCullough Professor of Cancer Research, Department of Symptom Research, Division of Internal Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Dr. Charles Cleeland, MD Anderson's McCullough Professor of Cancer Research, is a leader in the area of cancer symptom epidemiology, assessment and treatment. He has directed epidemiological studies of pain and other symptoms in patients with cancer, studies of the mechanisms of pain and other symptoms, studies using PET and functional MRI to examine the effects of pain on cortical activity, and clinical trials aimed at reducing the risk of inadequate symptom control, including in underserved populations.

Dr. Cleeland is senior scientific advisor of the Pan American Health Organization/WHO. He is a member and past president of the board of directors of the United States Cancer Pain Relief Committee. He is also past president of the American Pain Society. 

Dr. Cleeland's research is widely published. He has published numerous studies of the prevalence and severity of cancer pain, of U.S. and international symptom management practice patterns, and of potential biological mechanisms underlying the symptoms produced by cancer and its treatment.


Research Interests

Dr. Cleeland and his colleagues in the Department of Symptom Research have developed assessment tools (the Brief Pain Inventory, Brief Fatigue Inventory, and M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory) to measure symptom severity and how symptoms interfere with patient functioning. These tools are widely used internationally in clinical trials evaluating symptom-management treatments.

As Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Supportive Cancer Care, Dr. Cleeland worked with colleagues in Asia, Europe, and the United States to verify that our symptom-assessment scales work well in various linguistic and cultural contexts to allow development of multinational clinical trials and cross-cultural epidemiological symptom studies. Through ongoing international collaborations, he works to further the stateside training of clinicians and researchers from other countries, provide resources to educate abroad, encourage treatment of cancer-related pain and other symptoms for those without access to expensive curative treatments, and promote palliative care programs in countries with limited health care resources.

Dr. Cleeland's long-term research goals are to prevent the development of symptoms and to develop enhanced treatments for the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment, which may lead to improvement in patient function, stress level, satisfaction with and willingness to endure therapy, and quality of life during and after treatment. He is especially interested in the role of inflammation as a physiological mechanism potentially responsible for symptom-cluster generation and in biological response modifiers as agents for symptom reduction and prevention. Based on animal models of inflammation-induced sickness behavior, he hypothesizes that inflammation and its downstream toxic effects represent a significant biological basis for subjectively reported clusters of symptoms, cognitive impairment, and neuropathies. Control or prevention of cancer-related cytokine dysregulation may provide a basis for experimental therapies that could significantly reduce or even preclude the emergence of cancer-related symptoms.

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Symptom Research
1515 Holcombe Boulevard
Unit Number: 1450
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: FCT11.5064
Phone: (713) 745-3470
Fax: (713) 745-3475

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1966 Washington University, St. Louis, MO, PHD, Clinical Psychology
1960 Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, BA, with honors, Psychology

Postgraduate Training

1965-1967 NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Board Certifications

1982 Fellow, American Psychological Association (Clinical)
1978 Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology


Administrative Appointments/Responsibilities

Department Chair, Department of Symptom Research, Division of Internal Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2002-8/2015

Honors and Awards

2010 Raymond Houde Award and Lecture, Eastern Pain Society
2009 Award for Excellence in Contributions to the Committee for Rehabilitation and Palliative Care, The Chinese Anti-Cancer Association
2008 30th Annual Dr. John J. Bonica Award, Eastern Pain Association
2007 Trish Greene Quality of Life Award, American Cancer Society
2002 Fordyce Clinical Investigator Award, American Pain Society
2000 Distinguished Service Award, American Pain Society

Professional Memberships

American Pain Society
President, 1995-1996
American Psychological Association
Fellow, 2000-present
Assessing the Symptoms of Cancer using Patient-Reported Outcomes (ASCPRO)
Co-Chair, 2006-present
European Hematology Association
Chair, Working Group on Symptoms and Quality of Life, 2006-2010
International Association for the Study of Pain
Member, 2000-present
International Neuropsychology Society
Member, 2000-present
United States Cancer Pain Relief Committee
Member, Board of Directors, 1997-present
Chair, 1988-1996
World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization
Senior Scientific Advisor, 1997-present

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Jones D, Vichaya EG, Wang XS, Sailors MH, Cleeland CS, Wefel JS. Acute cognitive impairment in patients with multiple myeloma undergoing autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Cancer 119(23):4188-95, 12/1/2013. e-Pub 9/16/2013. PMCID: PMC3834212.
2. Cleeland CS, Zhao F, Chang VT, Sloan JA, O'Mara AM, Gilman PB, Weiss M, Mendoza TR, Lee JW, Fisch MJ. The symptom burden of cancer: Evidence for a core set of cancer-related and treatment-related symptoms from the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Symptom Outcomes and Practice Patterns study. Cancer 119(24):4333-40, 12/15/2013. e-Pub 9/24/2013. PMCID: PMC3860266.
3. Williams LA, Agarwal S, Bodurka DC, Saleeba AK, Sun CC, Cleeland CS. Capturing the patient's experience: using qualitative methods to develop a measure of patient-reported symptom burden: an example from ovarian cancer. J Pain Symptom Manage 46(6):837-45, 12/2013. e-Pub 4/22/2013. PMCID: PMC3775907.
4. Basch E, Autio K, Ryan CJ, Mulders P, Shore N, Kheoh T, Fizazi K, Logothetis CJ, Rathkopf D, Smith MR, Mainwaring PN, Hao Y, Griffin T, Li S, Meyers ML, Molina A, Cleeland C. Abiraterone acetate plus prednisone versus prednisone alone in chemotherapy-naive men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: patient-reported outcome results of a randomised phase 3 trial. Lancet Oncol 14(12):1193-9, 11/2013. e-Pub 9/25/2013. PMID: 24075621.
5. Shi Q, Mendoza TR, Gunn GB, Wang XS, Rosenthal DI, Cleeland CS. Using group-based trajectory modeling to examine heterogeneity of symptom burden in patients with head and neck cancer undergoing aggressive non-surgical therapy. Qual Life Res 22(9):2331-9, 11/2013. e-Pub 3/9/2013. PMCID: PMC3718875.
6. Gunn GB, Mendoza TR, Fuller CD, Gning I, Frank SJ, Beadle BM, Hanna EY, Lu C, Cleeland CS, Rosenthal DI. High symptom burden prior to radiation therapy for head and neck cancer: A patient-reported outcomes study. Head Neck 35(10):1490-8, 10/2013. e-Pub 11/20/2012. PMCID: PMC3788079.
7. Williams LA, Garcia Gonzalez AG, Ault P, Mendoza TR, Sailors ML, Williams JL, Huang F, Nazha A, Kantarjian HM, Cleeland CS, Cortes JE. Measuring the symptom burden associated with the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. Blood 122(5):641-7, 8/1/2013. e-Pub 6/18/2013. PMCID: PMC3731927.
8. Cleeland CS, Body JJ, Stopeck A, von Moos R, Fallowfield L, Mathias SD, Patrick DL, Clemons M, Tonkin K, Masuda N, Lipton A, de Boer R, Salvagni S, Oliveira CT, Qian Y, Jiang Q, Dansey R, Braun A, Chung K. Pain outcomes in patients with advanced breast cancer and bone metastases: results from a randomized, double-blind study of denosumab and zoledronic acid. Cancer 119(4):832-8, 2/15/2013. e-Pub 9/5/2012. PMID: 22951813.
9. Cleeland CS, Sloan JA, Cella D, Chen C, Dueck AC, Janjan NA, Liepa AM, Mallick R, O'Mara A, Pearson JD, Torigoe Y, Wang XS, Williams LA, Woodruff JF, CPRO (Assessing the Symptoms of Cancer Using Patient-Reported Outcomes) Multisymptom Task Force. Recommendations for including multiple symptoms as endpoints in cancer clinical trials : A report from the ASCPRO (Assessing the Symptoms of Cancer Using Patient-Reported Outcomes) Multisymptom Task Force. Cancer 119(2):411-20, 1/15/2013. e-Pub 8/28/2012. PMID: 22930243.
10. Cleeland CS, Allen JD, Roberts SA, Brell JM, Giralt SA, Khakoo AY, Kirch RA, Kwitkowski VE, Liao Z, Skillings J. Reducing the toxicity of cancer therapy: recognizing needs, taking action. Nat Rev Clin Oncol 9(8):471-8, 8/2012. e-Pub 7/2012. PMID: 22751283.
11. Wang XS, Williams LA, Krishnan S, Liao Z, Liu P, Mao L, Shi Q, Mobley GM, Woodruff JF, Cleeland CS. Serum sTNF-R1, IL-6, and the development of fatigue in patients with gastrointestinal cancer undergoing chemoradiation therapy. Brain Behav Immun 26(5):699-705, 7/2012. e-Pub 1/10/2012. PMCID: PMC3355215.
12. Dantzer R, Meagher MW, Cleeland CS. Translational approaches to treatment-induced symptoms in cancer patients. Nat Rev Clin Oncol 9(7):414-26, 7/2012. e-Pub 5/29/2012. PMCID: PMC3412618.
13. Boyette-Davis JA, Eng C, Wang XS, Cleeland CS, Wendelschafer-Crabb G, Kennedy WR, Simone DA, Zhang H, Dougherty PM. Subclinical peripheral neuropathy is a common finding in colorectal cancer patients prior to chemotherapy. Clin Cancer Res 18(11):3180-7, 6/1/2012. e-Pub 4/10/2012. PMID: 22496202.
14. Mendoza TR, Koyyalagunta D, Burton AW, Thomas SK, Phan MH, Giralt SA, Shah JJ, Cleeland CS. Changes in pain and other symptoms in patients with painful multiple myeloma-related vertebral fracture treated with kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty. J Pain 13(6):564-70, 6/2012. e-Pub 4/28/2012. PMCID: PMC3367066.
15. Fisch MJ, Lee JW, Weiss M, Wagner LI, Chang VT, Cella D, Manola JB, Minasian LM, McCaskill-Stevens W, Mendoza TR, Cleeland CS. Prospective, observational study of pain and analgesic prescribing in medical oncology outpatients with breast, colorectal, lung, or prostate cancer. J Clin Oncol 30(16):1980-8, 6/2012. e-Pub 4/2012. PMCID: PMC3383175.
16. Wang XS, Rhines LD, Shiu AS, Yang JN, Selek U, Gning I, Liu P, Allen PK, Azeem SS, Brown PD, Sharp HJ, Weksberg DC, Cleeland CS, Chang EL. Stereotactic body radiation therapy for management of spinal metastases in patients without spinal cord compression: a phase 1-2 trial. Lancet Oncol 13(4):395-402, 4/2012. e-Pub 1/27/2012. NIHMSID: NIHMS367673.
17. Quinten C, Maringwa J, Gotay CC, Martinelli F, Coens C, Reeve BB, Flechtner H, Greimel E, King M, Osoba D, Cleeland C, Ringash J, Schmucker-Von Koch J, Taphoorn MJ, Weis J, Bottomley A. Patient self-reports of symptoms and clinician ratings as predictors of overall cancer survival. J Natl Cancer Inst 103(24):1851-8, 12/21/2011. e-Pub 12/7/2011. PMCID: PMC3243678.
18. Cleeland CS, O'Mara A, Zagari M, Baas C. Integrating pain metrics into oncology clinical trials. Clin Cancer Res 17(21):6646-50, 11/1/2011. PMID: 22046026.
19. Cleeland CS, Mendoza TR, Wang XS, Woodruff JF, Palos GR, Richman SP, Nazario A, Lynch GR, Liao KP, Mobley GM, Lu C. Levels of symptom burden during chemotherapy for advanced lung cancer: differences between public hospitals and a tertiary cancer center. J Clin Oncol 29(21):2859-65, 7/20/2011. e-Pub 6/20/2011. PMCID: PMC3138716.
20. Cleeland CS, Wang XS, Shi Q, Mendoza TR, Wright SL, Berry MD, Malveaux D, Shah PK, Gning I, Hofstetter WL, Putnam JB, Vaporciyan AA. Automated symptom alerts reduce postoperative symptom severity after cancer surgery: a randomized controlled clinical trial. J Clin Oncol 29(8):994-1000, 3/10/2011. e-Pub 1/31/2011. PMCID: PMC3068055.
21. Mendoza TR, Wang XS, Lu C, Palos GR, Liao Z, Mobley GM, Kapoor S, Cleeland CS. Measuring the symptom burden of lung cancer: the validity and utility of the lung cancer module of the M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory. Oncologist 16(2):217-27, 2011. e-Pub 2/1/2011. PMCID: PMC3228083.
22. Wang XS, Shi Q, Williams LA, Mao L, Cleeland CS, Komaki RR, Mobley GM, Liao Z. Inflammatory cytokines are associated with the development of symptom burden in patients with NSCLC undergoing concurrent chemoradiation therapy. Brain Behav Immun 24(6):968-74, 8/2010. e-Pub 3/29/2010. PMCID: PMC2897921.
23. Barsevick AM, Cleeland CS, Manning DC, O'Mara AM, Reeve BB, Scott JA, Sloan JA, ASCPRO (Assessing Symptoms of Cancer Using Patient-Reported Outcomes). ASCPRO recommendations for the assessment of fatigue as an outcome in clinical trials. J Pain Symptom Manage 39(6):1086-99, 6/2010. PMCID: PMC2909842.
24. Wang XS, Cleeland CS, Mendoza TR, Yun YH, Wang Y, Okuyama T, Johnson VE. Impact of cultural and linguistic factors on symptom reporting by patients with cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 102(10):732-738, 5/19/2010. e-Pub 3/26/2010. PMCID: PMC2873184.
25. Wang XS, Williams LA, Eng C, Mendoza TR, Shah NA, Kirkendoll KJ, Shah PK, Trask PC, Palos GR, Cleeland CS. Validation and application of a module of the M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory for measuring multiple symptoms in patients with gastrointestinal cancer (the MDASI-GI). Cancer 116(8):2053-63, 4/15/2010. e-Pub 2/2010. PMID: 20166216.
26. Atkinson TM, Mendoza TR, Sit L, Passik S, Scher HI, Cleeland C, Basch E. The Brief Pain Inventory and its "Pain at its worst in the last 24 hours" item: clinical trial endpoint considerations. Pain Med 11(3):337-46, 3/2010. e-Pub 1/15/2010. PMID: 20030743.
27. Wang XS, Shi Q, Lu C, Basch EM, Johnson VE, Mendoza TR, Mobley GM, Cleeland CS. Prognostic value of symptom burden for overall survival in patients receiving chemotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Cancer 116(1):137-45, 1/1/2010. e-Pub 10/2009. PMID: 19852033.
28. Shi Q, Wang XS, Mendoza TR, Pandya KJ, Cleeland CS. Assessing persistent cancer pain: a comparison of current-pain ratings and pain recalled from the past week. J Pain Symptom Manage 37(2):168-74, 2/2009. e-Pub 8/3/2008. PMCID: PMC2705174.
29. Rosenthal DI, Mendoza TR, Chambers MS, Burkett VS, Garden AS, Hessell AC, Lewin JS, Ang KK, Kies MS, Gning I, Wang XS, Cleeland CS. The M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory-Head and Neck Module, a patient-reported outcome instrument, accurately predicts the severity of radiation-induced mucositis. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 72(5):1355-61, 12/2008. PMID: 18501527.
30. Wang XS, Shi Q, Williams LA, Cleeland CS, Mobley GM, Reuben JM, Lee BN, Giralt SA. Serum IL-6 predicts the development of multiple symptoms at nadir of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Cancer 113(8):2102-9, 10/2008. e-Pub 9/2008. PMCID: PMCPMC2633777.
31. Wang XS, Fairclough DL, Liao Z, Komaki R, Chang JY, Mobley GM, Cleeland CS. Longitudinal study of the relationship between chemoradiation therapy for non-small-cell lung cancer and patient symptoms. J Clin Oncol 24(27):4485-91, 9/2006. PMID: 16983118.
32. Cleeland CS, Portenoy RK, Rue M, Mendoza TR, Weller E, Payne R, Kirshner J, Atkins JN, Johnson PA, Marcus A. Does an oral analgesic protocol improve pain control for patients with cancer? An intergroup study coordinated by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group. Ann Oncol 16(6):972-80, 6/2005. PMID: 15821119.
33. Lee BN, Dantzer R, Langley KE, Bennett GJ, Dougherty PM, Dunn AJ, Meyers CA, Miller AH, Payne R, Reuben JM, Wang XS, Cleeland CS. A cytokine-based neuroimmunologic mechanism of cancer-related symptoms. Neuroimmunomodulation 11(5):279-92, 2004. PMID: 15316238.
34. Cleeland CS, Mendoza TR, Wang XS, Chou C, Harle MT, Morrissey M, Engstrom MC. Assessing symptom distress in cancer patients: the M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory. Cancer 89(7):1634-46, 10/2000. PMID: 11013380.
35. Serlin RC, Mendoza TR, Nakamura Y, Edwards KR, Cleeland CS. When is cancer pain mild, moderate or severe? Grading pain severity by its interference with function. Pain 61(2):277-84, 5/1995. PMID: 7659438.
36. Cleeland CS, Gonin R, Hatfield AK, Edmonson JH, Blum RH, Stewart JA, Pandya KJ. Pain and its treatment in outpatients with metastatic cancer. N Engl J Med 330(9):592-6, 3/1994. PMID: 7508092.

Invited Articles

1. Cleeland CS. Symptom burden: multiple symptoms and their impact as patient-reported outcomes. J Natl Cancer Inst Monographs 37:16-21, 10/2007.
2. Wang XS, Cleeland CS. Symptoms that cluster around cancer pain: a research agenda. Pain: Clinical Updates XIV(5):1-4, 12/2006.

Book Chapters

1. Shi Q, Cleeland CS. Genetic approaches to treating and preventing symptoms in patients with cancer. In: Cancer Symptom Science: Measurement, Mechanisms, and Management. Ed(s) CS Cleeland, MJ Fisch, AJ Dunn. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 192-205, 2011.
2. Cleeland CS, Mendoza TR. Symptom measurement by patient report. In: Cancer Symptom Science: Measurement, Mechanisms, and Management. Ed(s) CS Cleeland, MJ Fisch, AJ Dunn. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 268-84, 2011.
3. Cleeland CS, Fisch MJ, Dunn AJ. Symptom research: looking ahead. In: Cancer Symptom Science: Measurement, Mechanisms, and Management. Ed(s) CS Cleeland, MJ Fisch, AJ Dunn. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 341-8, 2011.

Books (edited and written)

1. Cleeland CS, Fisch MJ, Dunn AJ. Ed(s) Cleeland CS, Fisch MJ, Dunn AJ. Cancer Symptom Science: Measurement, Mechanisms, and Management. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2011.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: ACOSOG Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) Research Base (U10)
Funding Source: Mayo Clinic
Role: Principal Investigator-MDACC
Principal Investigator: Jeff Sloan
Duration: 8/3/2011 - 5/31/2014
Title: Assessing PROMIS and Other Simple Patient Reported Measures for Cancer Research
Funding Source: Mayo Clinic
Role: Principal Investigator-MDACC
Principal Investigator: Jeff Sloan
Duration: 8/1/2011 - 5/31/2016
Title: Development of a Patient-Reported Outcomes version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (PRO-CTCAE)
Funding Source: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Role: Principal Investigator-MDACC
Principal Investigator: Ethan Basch
Duration: 9/30/2010 - 9/29/2015
Title: The Effect of Recall Period on Patients Ratings of Severity of Multiple Symptoms
Funding Source: Pfizer
Role: Investigator
Principal Investigator: Qiuling Shi, MD, PhD
Duration: 10/2008 - 3/2009
Title: Mechanisms of Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma and Its Therapy
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 9/18/2008 - 8/31/2014
Title: Reducing the Symptom Burden Produced by Aggressive Cancer Therapies
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 7/1/1986 - 4/30/2015

Last updated: 1/14/2016