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Tumori. 2011 Jan-Feb;97(1):30-4.

Chemotherapy use at the end of life. A retrospective single centre experience analysis.

Author information

1
UO di Oncologia Medica, Fondazione Poliambulanza, Brescia, Italy.

Abstract

AIMS AND BACKGROUND:

The aim of the study was to evaluate the attitude at our institution in using chemotherapy at the end of life in oncology patients. We compared our habits with other clinical patterns in medical oncology, calculating the temporal interval between the last chemotherapy administration and death of the patient.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

We selected and analyzed 102 patients who received chemotherapy for metastatic or advanced solid tumors (breast, colon, gastric, pancreatic and lung cancers) and who died either in or out of a hospital or hospice from June 2007 to the end of 2009.

RESULTS:

We compared 51 patients enrolled in clinical trials with 51 patients not enrolled in clinical trials. Patients of both groups died with advanced cancer between June 2007 and 2009. The following solid tumor types were represented: 48% colorectal cancer, 22% breast cancer, 30% other solid tumors (pancreatic, lung and gastric cancer). The median age at death was 62 years (range, 39 to 84), the male/female ratio was 52:50, and 69% of the patients were married. Most patients, 54%, received 2-3 lines of chemotherapy, 25% received more than 3 lines, and the remaining 21% one line only of chemotherapy. Of the 102 patients identified, 16 (16%) received chemotherapy in the last month of life, and 6 (6%) of these in the last 2 weeks. We speculated that the presence of palliative care services in the territory of residence of patients could influence the time interval between the last chemotherapy and death. We found that 52 patients (51%) lived in areas where palliative care services were not available, 27 (52%) of them received chemotherapy in the last 3 months, 8 (15%) in the last month, and 5 (10%) within the last 2 weeks of life. In contrast, of the 49 patients living in the territory served by palliative care units or a hospice, none received chemotherapy during the last 2 weeks of life and 37% received it during the last 3 months of life (P = 0.003).

CONCLUSIONS:

Among selected patients who died for advanced cancer in our Operative Unit from 2007 to 2009, 50% received chemotherapy in the last 3 months of life. The availability of palliative care services in the territory of residence of patients can influence the interval between the last chemotherapy administration and death.

PMID:
21528660
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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