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Oncologist. 2006 Nov-Dec;11(10):1095-9.

Chemotherapy given near the end of life by community oncologists for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

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1
Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To characterize the chemotherapy given near the end of life to advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated in the community oncology setting using a medical records database.

METHODS:

We conducted a retrospective chart review of expired advanced (stage IIIb/IV) NSCLC patients treated with chemotherapy. Patients who initiated chemotherapy in 2000-2003 were eligible. Patient demographics, all chemotherapy including dose and schedule, and disease-related events were collected.

RESULTS:

We report data from 10 community practices including 417 patients treated for advanced NSCLC in 2000-2003. The mean age was 67 years (median, 62 years) and 54% were male. Forty percent of patients were >69 years of age and 35% had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of > or =2. First-line chemotherapy included combination therapy in 84% of patients. Second-line therapy was given to 56% of patients. Twenty-six percent of patients received third-line therapy, while 10% received fourth-line therapy and 5% received fifth-line therapy or greater. Patients received a mean of 6.1 cycles of chemotherapy. For patients receiving chemotherapy at the time of death, the mean line of therapy being given was second line. Chemotherapy was given within 1 month and 2 weeks of death to 43% and 20% of patients, respectively.

CONCLUSION:

The availability of new chemotherapeutic agents has caused a subsequent increase in the length of time patients are receiving chemotherapy with advanced NSCLC. This would suggest an increased use of chemotherapy near the end of life, which was identified in this study.

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