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Intern Med J. 2019 Jun 3. doi: 10.1111/imj.14377. [Epub ahead of print]

Population-Based Analysis of Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy Treatment in the Last Month of Life within regional Australia.

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Cancer Services, Barwon Health.
Barwon South Western Region Integrated Cancer Service.
Palliative Care, Barwon Health.
School of Medicine, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Victoria.



To report a population-based analysis of both radiotherapy and active systemic therapy (AST) delivery rates along with patterns of treatment within the last 14 and 30 days of life.


The Evaluation of Cancer Outcomes (ECO) Registry records clinical information on all newly diagnosed cancer patients for the Barwon South West Region of Victoria, Australia. Diagnosis details, tumour type and stage as well as core treatment details and date of death were extracted for all patients diagnosed from 2009-2015 inclusive.


A total of 12,760 cancers were recorded. The median age of all cases was 68.8 and 53% were male. AST was received by 3699 (29%) of patients and radiotherapy by 3811 (30%). Patient deaths within 14 and 30 days of treatment for AST were 4.3% and 8.7% respectively and deaths within 14 and 30 days of treatment for radiotherapy 3.8% and 8.0% respectively. Factors associated with death within 30 days of AST and/or radiotherapy were male gender, age greater than 70 years and higher disease stage (all p<0.01). Treatment rates within 30 days of death were highest for lung cancer (23% of cases) and lowest for breast cancer (2% of cases).


This population-based analysis of AST and radiotherapy treatment within the last 30 days of life within a region of Australia has shown overall treatment rates below 10%. Treatment rates appear influenced by both patient and tumour characteristics. Future focus on subgroups with high rates of late intervention may help minimise treatment unlikely to add benefit. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


chemotherapy; palliative care; radiotherapy; terminal care


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