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Cancer. 2010 Apr 15;116(8):2036-43. doi: 10.1002/cncr.24942.

Antineoplastic therapy use in patients with advanced cancer admitted to an acute palliative care unit at a comprehensive cancer center: a simultaneous care model.

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Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



Cancer patients admitted to a palliative care unit generally have a poor prognosis. The role of antineoplastic therapy (ANT) in these patients remains controversial. In the current study, the authors examined the frequency and predictors associated with ANT use in hospitalized patients who required admission to an acute palliative care unit (APCU).


Included in the study were all 2604 patients admitted over a 5-year period to a 12-bed APCU located within a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, in which patients had access to both palliative care and ANT. Institutional databases were used to retrospectively retrieve data regarding patient demographics, cancer diagnosis, ANT use, length of hospital stay, and survival from time of admission.


The median hospital stay was 11 days, and the median survival was 22 days. During hospitalization, 435 patients (17%) received ANT, including chemotherapy (N = 297; 11%), hormonal agents (N = 54; 2%), and targeted therapy (N = 155; 6%). No significant change in the frequency of ANT use was detected over the 5-year period. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that younger age, specific cancer diagnoses, and longer admissions were independently associated with ANT use.


The use of ANT during hospitalization that included an APCU stay was limited to a small percentage of patients and did not increase over time. ANT use was associated with younger age, specific cancer diagnoses, and longer admissions. The APCU facilitates simultaneous care for patients receiving ANT.

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