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Cancer. 1976 Jan;37(1):82-4.

The role of an intensive care unit in a cancer center. An analysis of 1035 critically ill patients treated for life-threatening complications editorial.


Life-threatening complications of cancer therapy often involve multiple organ systems and offer a therapeutic challenge which can be met with efficiency and success by concentrating personnel and equipment in a facility devoted to these problems. Three years ago, an Intensive Care Unit was created at Memorial Cancer Center to offer such patients the benefit of highly skilled nursing, advanced monitoring and supportive techniques, and full-time attendance by physicians and surgeons with a particular interest in Critical Care Medicine. Since then, 1035 patients have been admitted to the eight-bed unit with a mortality rate of 22.3%, which compares favorably with those reported from other institutions. Analysis of this experience has revealed that an average of 16% of those who survived their acute problems after considerable effort and expense, subsequently died of their underlying disease within 2 months. This experience has suggested the need for prognostic criteria to facilitate recognition of those patients for whom intensive supportive measures offer a reasonable chance of worthwhile palliation.

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