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Br J Cancer. 2006 Dec 18;95(12):1632-6.

Mortality within 30 days of chemotherapy: a clinical governance benchmarking issue for oncology patients.

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Department of Medicine, Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust, Downs Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5PT, UK. mary.o'


No national benchmark figures exist for early mortality due to chemotherapy unlike for surgical interventions. Deaths within 30 days of chemotherapy during a 6-month period were identified from the Royal Marsden Hospital electronic patient records. Treatment intention--curative or palliative, cause of death and number of previous treatments--were documented. Between April 2005 and September 2005, 1976 patients received chemotherapy with 161 deaths within 30 days of chemotherapy (8.1%). Of these, 124 deaths (77.0%) were due to disease progression. Of the other 37 deaths, 12 (7.5%) were related to chemotherapy, six each for solid tumours and haematological malignancies, of which seven (4.3%) were due to neutropenic sepsis. For the remaining 25 deaths (15.5%) there was insufficient information. There were more deaths after third and subsequent lines of therapy than with first and secondlines of therapy. Only 12 of the 161 deaths occurred in patients who were receiving potentially curative chemotherapy to give a mortality rate in breast and gastrointestinal malignancy of 0.5 and 1.5%, respectively. It is possible to audit mortality within 30 days of chemotherapy and this should become a benchmark for standard practice nationally. Most deaths were due to disease progression in the palliative setting. We practice this form of audit each quarter and feed back to the treating teams so that deaths are discussed and practice monitored.

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