Background: The opioid epidemic has spurred investigations for nonopioid options, yet limited research persists on medical marijuana's (MMJ) efficacy in managing cancer-related symptoms.
Objective: We sought to characterize MMJ's role on symptomatic relief and opioid consumption in the oncologic population.
Design: Retrospective chart review of MMJ-certified oncology patients was performed. Divided patients into MMJ use [MMJ(+)] versus no use [MMJ(-)], and Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS)-reported pain cohorts: “mild-moderate” versus “severe.”
Measurements: Medical records were reviewed for ESAS, to measure physical and emotional symptoms, and opiate consumption, converted into morphine milligram equivalents (MME). Minimal clinically important differences were determined. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests determined statistical significance between MMJ-certification and most recent palliative care visit.
Results: Identified 232 patients [95/232 MMJ(-); 137/232 MMJ(+)]. Pain, physical and total ESAS significantly improved for total MMJ(-) and MMJ(+); however, only MMJ(+) significantly improved emotional ESAS. MMJ(-) opioid consumption increased by 23% (97.5–120 mg/day MME, p = 0.004), while it remained constant (45–45 mg/day MME, p = 0.522) in MMJ(+). Physical and total ESAS improved in mild-moderate-MMJ(-) and MMJ(+). Pain and emotional symptoms worsened in MMJ(-); while MMJ(+)'s pain remained unchanged and emotional symptoms improved. MMJ(-) opioid consumption increased by 29% (90–126 mg/day MME, p = 0.012); while MMJ(+)'s decreased by 33% (45–30 mg/day MME, p = 0.935). Pain, physical, emotional, and total ESAS scores improved in severe-MMJ(-) and MMJ(+); opioid consumption reduced by 22% in MMJ(-) (135–106 mg/day MME, p = 0.124) and 33% in MMJ(+) (90–60 mg/day MME, p = 0.421).
Conclusions: MMJ(+) improved oncology patients' ESAS scores despite opioid dose reductions and should be considered a viable adjuvant therapy for palliative management.
The prescription of chemotherapy during the last weeks of a patient's life is a recognised criterion of decreasing quality of life but also survival. Targeted therapies have a particular efficiency and tolerance profile raising the question of their use in a palliative setting. Two patients were treated for a melanoma, at terminal stage, with poor efficiency of the symptomatic treatments. We introduced targeted therapies, which was previous treatments used in both patients.The evolution and benefits of the treatment was very different in our two patients and make us discuss the interest of targeted therapies in an end-of-life context and propose criteria for their maintenance or introduction in this indication. This discussion requires close collaboration between oncologists and palliative physicians and a very clear information given to patients and their relatives.
Objectives: The choice of drug treatment in advanced soft tissue sarcoma (STS) continues to be a challenge regarding efficacy, quality of life (QoL) and toxicity. Unlike other cancer types, where integrating patient-reported outcomes (PRO) has proven to be beneficial for QoL, there is no such evidence in patients with STS as of now. The YonLife trial aimed to explore the effect of a tailored multistep intervention on QoL, symptoms and survival in patients with advanced STS undergoing treatment with trabectedin as well as identifying predictors of QoL.
Design: YonLife is a cluster-randomised, open-label, proof-of-concept study. The intervention incorporates electronic PRO assessment, a case vignette and expert-consented treatment recommendations.
Participants: Six hospitals were randomised to the control arm (CA) or interventional arm (IA). Seventy-nine patients were included of whom 40 were analysed as per-protocol analysis set.
Primary and secondary outcome measures: The primary end point was the change of Functional Assessment for Cancer Therapy (FACT-G) total score after 9 weeks. Secondary outcomes included QoL (FACT-G subscales), anorexia and cachexia (Functional Assessment of Anorexia/Cachexia Therapy (FAACT)), symptoms (MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI)), anxiety and depression (HADS), pain intensity and interference (Brief Pain Inventory (BPI)) and survival assessment.
Results: After 9 weeks of treatment, QoL declined less in the IA ( FACT-G total score: -2.4, 95% CI: -9.2 to 4.5) as compared with CA ( FACT-G total score: -3.9; 95% CI:-11.3 to 3.5; p=0.765). In almost all FACT-G subscales, average declines were lower in IA, but without reaching statistical significance. Smaller adverse trends between arms were observed for MDASI, FAACT, HADS and BPI scales. These trends failed to reach statistical significance. Overall mean survival was longer in IA (648 days) than in CA (389 days, p=0.110). QoL was predicted by symptom severity, symptom interference, depression and anxiety.
Conclusion: Our data suggest a potentially favourable effect of an electronic patient-reported outcomes based intervention on QoL that needs to be reappraised in confirmatory studies.
Lung cancer is one of the main causes of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Over the years, different therapeutic modalities have been adopted depending on tumor stage and patient characteristics, such as surgery, radiotherapy (RT), and chemotherapy. Recently, with the development of immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICI), the treatment of metastatic and locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has experienced a revolution that has resulted in a significant improvement in overall survival with an enhanced toxicity profile. Despite this paradigm shift, most patients present some kind of resistance to ICI. In this setting, current research is shifting towards the integration of multiple therapies, with RT and ICI being one of the most promising based on the potential immunostimulatory synergy of this combination. This review gives an overview of the evolution and current state of the combination of RT and ICI and provides evidence-based data that can improve patient selection. The combination in lung cancer is a safe therapeutic approach that improves local control and progression-free survival, and it has the potential to unleash abscopal responses. Additionally, this treatment strategy seems to be able to re-sensitize select patients that have reached a state of resistance to ICI, further enabling the continuation of systemic therapy.
OBJECTIVES: Advanced penile cancer is associated with a poor prognosis; therefore, providing patients with realistic expectations, addressing goals of care and offering palliative therapy when appropriate is critical. Our goal was to investigate the National Cancer Database (NCDB) and analyze the role and trends in use of palliative therapy in patients with advanced penile cancer.
METHODS: The NCDB 2004-2015 penile cancer data set was queried for patients with locally advanced, defined as cT4NanyM0 and cTanyN3M0, or metastatic disease regardless of tumor or nodal stage. Patients were categorized based on whether they did or did not receive palliative care. Palliative care was cataloged as pain management therapy, surgery, radiation or systemic treatment, any combination therapy or not otherwise specified (NOS). Our primary outcome was receiving palliative therapy. Secondary outcome was the temporal trends in palliative care. Logistic regression (LR) was performed.
RESULTS OBTAINED: 385 and 279 patients were identified with locally advanced and metastatic penile cancer respectively. 27 (7.1%) and 49 (17.6%) patients received palliative care. Average age of patients accepting palliative care was 61.9 years old, about 5 years younger than their counterparts who declined therapy (p < 0.011) in the metastatic cohort. Other patient specific demographics and clinical tumor characteristics were not significantly different in either population. Of patients with locally advanced disease pursuing palliative therapy, radiation (29.6%), surgery (14.8%), systemic treatment (14.8%) and combination treatment (22.2%) were the more popular choices. In the metastatic population, radiation (32.7%) and systemic therapy (24.5%) were the most prevalent choices for palliative treatment followed by combination treatment (16.3%), surgery (12.2%), pain management (10.2%), or NOS (4.1%). LR for the receipt of "any palliative therapy" revealed that increasing age (OR 0.971, p = 0.032) decreased the likelihood of accepting palliative therapy in the metastatic population but not in the locally advanced group. Charlson score of 2 (OR 5.966, p = 0.025) and low income (OR 3.968, p = 0.002) predicted receipt of palliative therapy in the locally advanced group. In patients with metastatic disease, African-American race (OR 2.502, p = 0.025), Charlson score 1 (2.175, p = 0.047) and 3+ (5.386, p = 0.020) predicted an increased predilection for receiving palliative therapy. Interestingly, no statistically significant difference in mortality was noted in either cohort. No significant increase in the trend of palliative care administration was seen in locally advanced and metastatic penile cancer between 2004 to 2015 (p = 0.078 and p = 0.942, respectively).
CONCLUSION: Locally advanced and metastatic penile cancer carry a high mortality rate yet only 11.4% of all patients studied received palliative care. Its use is more common in younger patients, those with co-morbidities and/or those of black race in the metastatic group. Locally advanced patients with low income or comorbidities were also more likely to opt for palliative therapy. Receipt of palliative care did not affect mortality. No increase in frequency of palliative therapy was seen, suggesting much improvement needs to be done in adopting and implementing palliative care in this patient population.
OBJECTIVES: Women with terminal cancer are assumed to choose hospice care over aggressive treatment at the end of life. With new chemotherapy and target therapy options, it becomes more difficult to decide between hospice care and aggressive management. It is also crucial to consider the cost increases leading to severe financial burdens on healthcare systems. To better understand treatment options at the individual level, this study set out to describe trends in end-of-life care for the four leading cancers in women in Taiwan.
STUDY DESIGN: This was a population-based retrospective cohort study.
METHODS: The data source was obtained between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2013, from Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database. We identified 98,575 women with a diagnosis of breast (18,596), colorectal (23,734), liver and biliary (28,795) or lung (27,450) cancer who had died during the study period. Hospital data for services provided in the last 6 months of life, including hospice services and aggressive managements (chemotherapy, frequent hospitalisation, emergency room [ER] visits, intensive care unit [ICU] admission and endotracheal intubation), were collected.
RESULTS: Hospice utilisation increased over the study period, with 25.85%, 25.34%, 21.23% and 26.55% of female patients with breast, colorectal, liver and biliary, and lung cancer receiving hospice care, respectively. However, the number of women undergoing aggressive treatments in the last 6 months of life remained high, with the breast cancer group having the highest chemotherapy rate, the colorectal cancer group having frequent hospitalisation and the liver and biliary cancer group having frequent ER visits and ICU admissions.
CONCLUSIONS: Increasing hospice utilisation among women with the four most common cancers in Taiwan indicates that hospice services have gradually become well accepted over the past 13 years; however, the real focus is on the ineffective treatment preceding hospice care, and late referral was also a notable problem.
PURPOSE: As immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have transformed the care of patients with cancer, it is unclear whether treatment at the end of life (EOL) has changed. Because aggressive therapy at the EOL is associated with increased costs and patient distress, we explored the association between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals of ICIs and treatment patterns at the EOL.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective, observational study using patient-level data from a nationwide electronic health record-derived database. Patients had advanced melanoma, non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC; cancer types with an ICI indication), or microsatellite stable (MSS) colon cancer (a cancer type without an ICI indication) and died between 2013 and 2017. We calculated annual proportions of decedents who received systemic cancer therapy in the final 30 days of life, using logistic regression to model the association between the post-ICI FDA approval time and use of systemic therapy at the EOL, adjusting for patient characteristics. We assessed the use of chemotherapy or targeted/biologic therapies at the EOL, before and after FDA approval of ICIs using Pearson chi-square test.
RESULTS: There was an increase in use of EOL systemic cancer therapy in the post-ICI approval period for both melanoma (33.9% to 43.2%; P < .001) and NSCLC (37.4% to 40.3%; P < .001), with no significant change in use of systemic therapy in MSS colon cancer. After FDA approval of ICIs, patients with NSCLC and melanoma had a decrease in the use of chemotherapy, with a concomitant increase in use of ICIs at the EOL.
CONCLUSION: The adoption of ICIs was associated with a substantive increase in the use of systemic therapy at the EOL in melanoma and a smaller yet significant increase in NSCLC.
Background: Anticancer treatment exposes patients to negative consequences such as increased toxicity and decreased quality of life, and there are clear guidelines recommending limiting use of aggressive anticancer treatments for patients near end of life. The aim of this study is to investigate the association between anticancer treatment given during the last 30 days of life and adverse events contributing to death and elucidate how adverse events can be used as a measure of quality and safety in end-of-life cancer care.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study of 247 deceased hospitalised cancer patients at three hospitals in Norway in 2012 and 2013. The Global Trigger Tool method were used to identify adverse events. We used Poisson regression and binary logistic regression to compare adverse events and association with use of anticancer treatment given during the last 30 days of life.
Results: 30% of deceased hospitalised cancer patients received some kind of anticancer treatment during the last 30 days of life, mainly systemic anticancer treatment. These patients had 62% more adverse events compared to patients not being treated last 30 days, 39 vs. 24 adverse events per 1000 patient days (p < 0.001, OR 1.62 (1.23–2.15). They also had twice the odds of an adverse event contributing to death compared to patients without such treatment, 33 vs. 18% (p = 0.045, OR 1.85 (1.01–3.36)). Receiving follow up by specialist palliative care reduced the rate of AEs per 1000 patient days in both groups by 29% (p = 0.02, IRR 0.71, CI 95% 0.53–0.96).
Conclusions: Anticancer treatment given during the last 30 days of life is associated with a significantly increased rate of adverse events and related mortality. Patients receiving specialist palliative care had significantly fewer adverse events, supporting recommendations of early integration of palliative care in a patient safety perspective.
Background: Lung cancer has a high impact on both patients and relatives due to the high disease burden and short life expectancy. Previous studies looked into treatment goals patients have before starting a systemic treatment. However, studies on relatives’ perceptions of treatment at the end of life are scarce. Therefore, we studied the perspectives of relatives in hindsight on the achievement of treatment goals and the choice to start treatment for metastatic lung cancer of their loved one.
Methods: we conducted a structured telephone interview study in six hospitals across the Netherlands, one academic and five non-academic hospitals, between February 2017 and November 2019. We included 118 relatives of deceased patients diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer who started a systemic treatment as part of usual care (chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and who completed a questionnaire on their treatment goals before the start of treatment and when treatment was finished. We asked the relatives about the achievement of patients’ treatment goals and relatives’ satisfaction with the choice to start treatment. This study is part of a larger study in which 266 patients with metastatic lung cancer participated who started a systemic treatment and reported their treatment goals before start of the treatment and the achievement of these goals after the treatment.
Results: Relatives reported the goals ‘quality of life’, ‘decrease tumour size’ and ‘life prolongation’ as achieved in 21, 37 and 41% respectively. The majority of the relatives (78%) were satisfied with the choice to start a treatment and even when none of the goals were achieved, 70% of the relatives were satisfied. About 50% of relatives who were satisfied with the patients’ choice mentioned negative aspects of the treatment choice, such as the treatment did not work, there were side effects or it would not have been the relatives’ choice. Whereas, 80% of relatives who were not satisfied mentioned negative aspects of the treatment choice. The most mentioned positive aspects were that they tried everything and that it was the patient’s choice.
Conclusion: The majority of relatives reported patients’ treatment goals as not achieved. However, relatives were predominantly satisfied about the treatment choice. Satisfaction does not provide a full picture of the experience with the treatment decision considering that the majority of relatives mentioned (also) negative aspects of this decision. At the time of making the treatment decision it is important to manage expectations about the chance of success and the possible side effects of the treatment.
Background: Oesophageal and gastric cancer are highly lethal malignancies with a 5-year survival rate of 15–29%. More knowledge is needed about the quality of end-of-life care in order to understand the burden of the illness and the ability of the current health care system to deliver timely and appropriate end-of-life care. The aim of this study was to describe the impact of initial treatment strategy and survival time on the quality of end-of-life care among patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer.
Methods: This register-based cohort study included patients who died from oesophageal and gastric cancer in Sweden during 2014–2016. Through linking data from the National Register for Esophageal and Gastric Cancer, the National Cause of Death Register, and the Swedish Register of Palliative Care, 2156 individuals were included. Associations between initial treatment strategy and survival time and end-of-life care quality indicators were investigated. Adjusted risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated using modified Poisson regression.
Results : Patients with a survival of =3 months and 4–7 months had higher RRs for hospital death compared to patients with a survival =17 months. Patients with a survival of =3 months also had a lower RR for end-of-life information and bereavement support compared to patients with a survival =17 months, while the risks of pain assessment and oral assessment were not associated with survival time. Compared to patients with curative treatment, patients with no tumour-directed treatment had a lower RR for pain assessment. No significant differences were shown between the treatment groups regarding hospital death, end-of-life information, oral health assessment, and bereavement support.
Conclusions : Short survival time is associated with several indicators of low quality end-of-life care among patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer, suggesting that a proactive palliative care approach is imperative to ensure quality end-of-life care.
Context: Although it is well known that patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (PC) experience significant symptom burden, few strategies for effective symptom intervention are available for them.
Objectives: To investigate the efficacy of minocycline, an anti-inflammatory agent, for symptom reduction in patients with advanced PC.
Methods: We conducted Phase II, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial to obtain preliminary estimates of the effects on symptom reduction with 100 mg of minocycline or placebo given twice a day. Eligible patients had diagnosed advanced PC and were scheduled for standard chemotherapy. Patient-reported symptoms were measured weekly during the eight-week trial using the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) module in patients with gastrointestinal cancer. The primary outcome measure was the area under the curve values of the five most severe symptoms in the two arms.
Results: Of the 44 patients recruited, 31 (71%) were evaluable for the primary efficacy analysis, with 18 received minocycline and 13 placebo. Fatigue, pain, disturbed sleep, lack of appetite, and drowsiness were the most severe symptoms reported by both groups. No significant differences in area under the curve values over time between the study arms were found for the composite MDASI score or single-item scores of the five most severe MDASI items. No treatment-related deaths were reported, and no Grade 3–4 toxicities were observed.
Conclusion: Minocycline is safe for use in patients receiving treatment for PC. There is no observed symptom reduction with minocycline on the major symptom burden associated with advanced PC compared with placebo. Attrition because of rapid disease progression impacted the study significantly.
BACKGROUND: Previous research on chemotherapy discontinuation has mainly focused on predictive factors and outcomes. Few data are available on the reasons for chemotherapy discontinuation. The main objective was to identify the reasons for chemotherapy discontinuation in patients with gastrointestinal cancer. The secondary objectives were to describe the announcement of chemotherapy discontinuation and the time between chemotherapy discontinuation and death.
METHODS: This prospective multicenter French cohort included patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer, for whom chemotherapy was discontinued between May 2016 and January 2018.
RESULTS: One hundred and fourteen patients were analyzed. The first cause of chemotherapy discontinuation was the impairment of general condition (asthenia, cachexia). Complications such as sepsis, jaundice or occlusion, were the second most frequent cause. Progression was observed at chemotherapy discontinuation in two-thirds of cases. The announcement of the chemotherapy discontinuation was made formally in 74% of cases, with a follow-up by a palliative care team initiated in 50% of cases. Sixty-nine percent of the patients received chemotherapy during the last three months of life and 26% during the last month. The median time between chemotherapy discontinuation and death was 65 days (IQR: 36.5-109): 44% of patients died at the hospital, 39% in a palliative care unit and 16% at home.
CONCLUSION: Impairment of general condition was the major reason for chemotherapy discontinuation in patients with gastrointestinal cancers. Complications such as jaundice, sepsis or occlusion, were important reasons for discontinuation and could explain our shorter time between chemotherapy discontinuation and death, compared to other oncology sub-specialties.
BACKGROUND: Immune and targeted therapies continue to transform treatment outcomes for those with metastatic melanoma. However, the role of palliative care within this treatment paradigm is not well understood.
AIM: To explore bereaved carers' experiences of immune and targeted therapy treatment options towards end of life for patients with metastatic melanoma.
DESIGN: An interpretive, qualitative study using a social constructivist framework was utilised. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using grounded theory methods.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Participants (n = 20) were bereaved carers of patients who had received some form of immune and/or targeted therapy at one of three Australian metropolitan melanoma treatment centres.
RESULTS: Carers struggled to reconcile the positive discourse around the success of immune and targeted therapies in achieving long-term disease control, and the underlying uncertainty in predicting individual responses to therapy. Expectations that immune and targeted therapies necessarily provide longer-term survival were evident. Difficulty in prognostication due to clinical uncertainty and a desire to maintain hope resulted in lack of preparedness for treatment failure and end of life.
CONCLUSION: Immune and targeted therapies have resulted in increased prognostic challenges. There is a need to engage, educate and support patients and carers to prepare and plan amid these challenges. Educational initiatives must focus on improving communication between patients, carers and clinicians; the differences between palliative and end-of-life care; and increased competency of clinicians in having goals-of-care discussions. Clinicians must recognise and communicate the benefit of collaborative palliative care to meet patient and family needs holistically and comprehensively.
Palliation of metastatic disease compromises a significant portion of radiation treatments in the United States. These patients present a unique challenge in resource-limited settings, as expeditious treatment is often required to prevent serious morbidity. In order to reduce the risk of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2 and maximize the benefit to patients, we present evidence-based recommendations for radiation in patients with oncologic emergencies. Radiation oncologists with expertise in the treatment of metastatic disease at a high-volume comprehensive cancer center reviewed the available evidence and recommended best practices for the treatment of common oncologic emergencies, with attention to balancing the risk of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2 and the potential morbidity of delaying treatment. Many prospective trials and national guidelines support the use of abbreviated courses of radiotherapy for patients with oncologic emergencies. As such, in the setting of the current coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, the use of hypofractionated radiation therapy for patients requiring palliation for oncologic emergencies achieves desirable functional outcomes without compromising care.
Background: It remains unclear whether the end-of-life (EOL) treatment/environment impacts on survival after anticancer treatment in terminally ill women with ovarian carcinoma (OC).
Objective: The aim of this investigation was to clarify how long those women actually survived after their last anticancer treatments and their hallmarks.
Setting, Design, and Measurements: Between 2003 and 2011, 79 terminally ill women with OC were retrospectively analyzed as a single institutional study. Postcancer treatment survival (PCS), defined as the duration between the last date of the abovementioned “cancer treatment” and that of death from any cause, was analyzed on stratification by type of supportive care or where patients spend their EOL. Inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW)—adjusted Kaplan–Meier and Cox regression analyses were employed to compare PCS between the two groups.
Results: The median PCS of patients was 10.8 weeks. In the multivariable analysis, the performance status and EOL place retained their significance as independent prognostic factors of poorer PCS (performance status [2–3/0–1]: hazard ratio [HR] = 3.279 [95% confidence interval; CI 1.967–5.586; p < 0.0001], EOL place [hospital/home hospice]: HR = 0.574 [95% CI 0.355–0.913; p = 0.0188]). In the IPTW-adjusted cohort, the median PCS rates were 15.0 and 9.7 weeks in patients of home/hospice and hospital groups, respectively (p = 0.04). Also in the IPTW cohort, the EOL place retained its significance (IPTW-adjusted: HR [95% CI]: 1.548 [1.009–2.374], p = 0.045, multivariable adjusted with IPTW: HR [95% CI]: 1.670 [1.077–2.588], p = 0.022).
Conclusion: Our current data may be hypothesis generating; it is possible that the EOL environment is a crucial prognostic factor for survival after anticancer treatment.
Maman a un cancer, un lymphome, un gros pamplemousse qui l'empêche de respirer dans le poumon. On suit le parcours de soins, du diagnostic au traitement jusqu'à la guérison, à travers les yeux d'un petit garçon et de son papa.
Background: Lymphopenia during radiotherapy (RT) may have an adverse effect on treatment outcome. The aim of this study is to investigate associations between lymphopenia and RT parameters in patients with advanced lung cancer. Moreover, to investigate the prognostic role of lymphopenia, blood protein levels, and treatment and patient-related factors.
Material and Methods: Sixty-two advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients were retrospectively analyzed. Blood counts were available prior to, during, and after RT (3Gyx10). For each patient, a thoracic volume of interest (VOI) -including thoracic soft tissue and trabecular bone- was obtained by applying a CT window of -500 to 1200 HU in the planning CT. Dose parameters from thoracic VOI and other regions including lungs and vertebrae were calculated. Association between risk of lymphopenia = G3 (lymphocytes at nadir according to CTCAE v4.0) and therapeutic parameters was investigated using Logistic regression. Relationships between overall survival (OS) and RT dose parameters, baseline blood counts and protein levels, and clinical factors were evaluated using Log-rank and Cox models.
Result: Mean thoracic RT dose (odds ratio [OR] 1.67; p = 0.04), baseline lymphocytes (OR 0.65; p = 0.01), and corticosteroids use (OR 6.07; p = 0.02) were significantly associated with increased risk of lymphopenia = G3 in multivariable analysis. Worse OS was associated with high mean thoracic RT dose, high CRP/Albumin, large tumor volume and corticosteroids use (p < 0.05, univariate analysis), but not with lymphopenia = G3. CRP/Albumin ratio > 0.12 (hazard ratio [HR] 2.28, p = 0.03) and corticosteroid use (HR 2.52, p = 0.01) were independently associated with worse OS.
Conclusion: High thoracic RT dose gave a higher risk of lymphopenia = G3; hence limiting dose volume to the thorax may be valuable in preventing severe lymphopenia for patients receiving palliative fractionated RT. Still, lymphopenia = G3 was not associated with worse OS. however, high baseline CRP/Albumin was associated with poorer OS and may carry important information as a prognostic factor of OS in advanced NSCLC receiving palliative RT.
Radiation therapy (RT) can effectively palliate a variety of symptoms in patients with metastatic cancer, using relatively low doses that infrequently cause major side effects. However, palliative radiation is often underutilized and sub-optimally implemented. In this study, we surveyed the Society of Palliative Radiation Oncology (SPRO) membership to identify barriers to appropriate referral for palliative RT that they encounter in their practice, and identify specific groups of physicians who radiation oncologists believed would benefit most from further education on when to refer patients. A total of 28 radiation oncologists responded to the survey with a response rate of 20.5%. On average, participants felt that referrals for palliative RT were inappropriately delayed 46.5% [standard deviation (STD) 20.2%] of the time. The most common barrier to referral for medical oncologists was thought to be potential interference with systemic therapy (33%); for primary care physicians and surgeons it was a lack of knowledge about the benefit (42%), and for palliative care physicians it was concern for patient convenience (25%). For brain metastases and spinal cord compression radiation oncology was felt to be part of the initial referral sequence more than 50% of the time, but less so for thoracic airway obstruction/bleeding (38%), esophageal obstruction (16%), or urinary obstruction/bleeding (8%), where another subspecialist was more often consulted first. Primary care, geriatric medicine, and emergency medicine were considered among the least knowledgeable specialties about palliative radiation. These hypothesis-generating findings can guide approaches to improve referral patterns for this important aspect of supportive care.
Background: Aggressive care at the end of life (EOL) is a persistent issue for patients with stage IV nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We evaluated the use of concurrent care (CC) with hospice care and cancer-directed treatment simultaneously within the Veteran's Health Administration (VHA) and aggressive care at the EOL.
Objective: To determine whether VHA facility-level CC is associated with changes in aggressive care at the EOL.
Design/Setting: Veterans with stage IV NSCLC who died between 2006 and 2012 and received lung cancer care within the VHA.
Measurements: The primary outcome was aggressive care at EOL (i.e., hospital admissions, chemotherapy, and intensive care unit) within the last month of life. To compare aggressive care across VHA facilities, we used a random intercept multilevel logistic regression model to examine the association between facility-level CC within each study year (<10%, 10% to 19%, and =20%) and aggressive care at the EOL among the decedents as a binary outcome.
Results: In total, 18,371 veterans with NSCLC at 154 VHA facilities were identified. Facilities delivering CC for =20% of veterans (high CC) increased from 20.0% in 2006 to 43.2% in 2012 (p < 0.001). Overall, hospice care significantly increased and aggressive care at EOL decreased over the study period. However, facility-level CC adoption was not associated with any difference in aggressive care at EOL (adjusted odds ratio high CC vs. low CC: 0.91 [95% CI, 0.79 to 1.05], p = 0.21).
Conclusions: Although the VHA adoption of CC increased hospice use among patients with NSCLC, additional measures may be needed to decrease aggressive care at the EOL.
Background: Adults with impaired performance status (PS) often receive immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) despite limited efficacy data and unknown effects on end-of-life care.
Methods: This was a retrospective, single-site study of 237 patients with advanced NSCLC who initiated ICI treatment from 2015 to 2017. Cox regression was used to compare the overall survival (OS) of patients who had impaired PS (=2) at the start of ICI treatment with those who had PS 0 or 1 using Cox regression. Logistic regression was conducted to analyze the association between ICI use in the last 30 days of life and the use of end-of-life health care.
Results: The patient mean age at ICI initiation was 67 years (range, 37-91 years), and 35.4% of patients had PS =2. Most patients (80.8%) received ICI as second-line or later therapy. The median OS was 4.5 months in patients with PS =2 and 14.3 months in those with PS 0 or 1 (hazard ratio, 2.5; P < .0001). Among the patients who died (n = 184), 28.8% who had PS =2 received ICIs in their last 30 days of life compared with 10.8% of those who had PS 0 or 1 (P = .002). Receipt of ICI in the last 30 days of life was associated with decreased hospice referral (odds ratio, 0.29; P = .008) and increased in-hospital deaths (odds ratio, 6.8; P = .001), independent of PS.
Conclusions: Adults with advanced NSCLC and impaired PS experience significantly shorter survival after ICI treatment and receive ICIs near death more often than those with better PS. Receipt of an ICI near death was associated with lower hospice use and an increased risk of death in the hospital. These results underscore the need for high-quality communication about potential tradeoffs of ICIs, particularly among adults receiving ICIs as second-line or later therapy.