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.
This retrospective multi-center analysis aimed to assess the clinical response and stabilizing effects of palliative radiotherapy (RT) for spinal bone metastases (SBM) in head and neck cancer (HNC), and to establish potential predictive factors for stability and overall survival (OS). Patients included in this analysis were treated at the University Hospitals of Mainz, Freiburg, and Heidelberg between 2001 and 2019. Clinical information was taken from the medical records. The stability of affected vertebral bodies was assessed according to the validated spine instability neoplastic score (SINS) based on CT-imaging before RT, as well as 3 and 6 months after RT. OS was quantified as the time between the start of palliative RT and death from any cause or last follow-up. Potential predictive factors for stability and OS were analyzed using generalized estimating equations and Cox regression for time-varying covariates to take into account multiple observations per patient. The mean follow-up time of 66 included patients after the first palliative RT was 8.1 months (range 0.3–85.0 months). The majority of patients (70%; n = 46) had squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) originating from the pharynx, larynx and oral cavity, while most of the remaining patients (26%; n = 17) suffered from salivary glands tumors. A total of 95 target volumes including 178 SBM were evaluated that received a total of 81 irradiation series. In patients with more than one metastasis per irradiated region, only the most critical bone metastasis was analyzed according to the SINS system. Prior to RT, pain and neurologic deficits were present in 76% (n = 72) and 22% (n = 21) of irradiated lesions, respectively, and 68% of the irradiated lesions (n = 65) were assessed as unstable or potentially unstable prior to RT. SBM-related pain symptoms and neurologic deficits responded to RT in 63% and 47% of the treated lesions, respectively. Among patients still alive at 3 and 6 months after RT with potentially unstable or unstable SBM, a shift to a better stability class according to the SINS was observed in 20% and 33% of the irradiated SBM, respectively. Pathological fractures of SBM were frequently detected before the start of irradiation (43%; n = 41), but after RT, new fractures or increasing vertebral body sintering within the irradiated region occurred rarely (8%; n = 8). A pathological fracture before RT was negatively associated with stabilization 6 months after RT (OR 0.1, 95% CI 0.02–0.49, p = 0.004), while a Karnofsky performance score (KPS) = 70% was associated positively with a stabilization effect through irradiation (OR 6.09, 95% CI 1.68–22.05, p = 0.006). Mean OS following first palliative RT was 10.7 months, and the KPS (=70% vs. <70%) was shown to be a strong predictive factor for OS after RT (HR 0.197, 95% CI 0.11–0.35, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in OS between patients with SCC and non-SCC. Palliative RT in symptomatic SBM of HNC provides sufficient symptom relief in the majority of patients, while only about one third of initially unstable SBM show re-stabilization after RT. Since patients in our multi-center cohort exhibited very limited OS, fractionation schemes should be determined depending on the patients’ performance status.
CONTEXT: Advanced gynecologic malignancies can cause significant vaginal bleeding. Radiotherapy (RT) is often used to palliate symptoms, but limited data exists concerning the optimal dose and expected time to bleeding hemostasis in this population.
OBJECTIVES: 1) To investigate the overall hemostasis response and kinetics of hemostasis in women with gynecologic malignancies receiving palliative RT. 2) To compare the efficacy of short-course RT (SCRT, =5 fractions, >3.5 Gy per fraction) versus conventionally fractionated long-course regimens (>5 fractions).
METHODS: We identified women receiving palliative RT for bleeding gynecologic malignancies. Initial and maximal hemostasis responses (IHR and MHR) were recorded and categorized as progressive bleeding (PD), stable disease (SD), partial response (PR), or complete response (CR). Clinical variables were correlated with response or toxicity using binary logistic regression statistical methods.
RESULTS: 33 women (median age 63) were identified between 2010-2019. Median follow-up and survival after RT were 131 days. 54.5% (18/33) received SCRT. Median time to IHR was 5 days (2.5 days with SCRT) and 78.8% (26/33) responded during treatment. Median time to MHR was 13 days. 100% achieved PR or CR at MHR. Rates of CR were similar between SCRT (83%) and conventionally fractionated schedules (87%). Average durability of hemostatic control was 5.4 months. Overall rate of rebleeding and Grade 3+ toxicity was 9.1% (3/33 each).
CONCLUSION: Women receiving SCRT for bleeding gynecologic malignancies achieved rapid symptom control (often during treatment) with minimal rebleeding. In a population whose median survival is 4 months, SCRT effectively addresses symptomatic disease while minimizing patient burden and toxicity.
New methods of working in relation to the management of patients requiring palliative radiotherapy are being embraced in hospital departments around the world. Team members are expanding on their previously assigned scope of practice to take on duties that had previously only been assigned to a consultant clinical oncologist. Career frameworks such as the four-tier model have been built upon to identify the skills held by other healthcare professionals and show how they may be best placed to take on additional roles within a patient pathway. Experiences of four departments in different countries report their local experiences in using both therapeutic radiographers and nursing staff to undertake advanced and consultant-level practice in relation to the management of both palliative radiotherapy patients and their research work streams. Involvement of other healthcare professionals within the clinical or research pathway for the management of palliative radiotherapy patients can be achieved. Their involvement can support clinicians and help to ensure the safe and efficient management of patients requiring palliative radiotherapy.
One of the greatest successes of radiotherapy has been its ability to palliate symptoms from advanced and metastatic cancers. Unfortunately, patients face barriers to accessing care and the demand for treatment is rising. Rapid access palliative radiotherapy programmes were created in response to these concerns, and over time they have proliferated and succeeded internationally. This narrative review provides an overview of programmes that have published their experiences, and discusses how they have improved access to care, increased evidence-based practice, met the needs of vulnerable populations, advanced the roles of multidisciplinary team members, collaborated across medical specialties, educated trainees and referring physicians, and developed new treatment platforms using advanced technologies.
Introduction: For patients with brain metastases, palliative radiation therapy (RT) has long been a standard of care for improving quality of life and optimizing intracranial disease control. The duration of time between completion of palliative RT and patient death has rarely been evaluated.
Methods: A compilation of two prospective institutional databases encompassing April 2015 through December 2018 was used to identify patients who received palliative intracranial radiation therapy. A multivariate logistic regression model characterized patients adjusting for age, sex, admission status (inpatient versus outpatient), Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), and radiation therapy indication.
Results: 136 consecutive patients received intracranial palliative radiation therapy. Patients with baseline KPS <70 (OR = 2.2; 95%CI = 1.6–3.1; p < 0.0001) were significantly more likely to die within 30 days of treatment. Intracranial palliative radiation therapy was most commonly delivered to provide local control (66% of patients) or alleviate neurologic symptoms (32% of patients), and was most commonly delivered via whole brain radiation therapy in 10 fractions to 30 Gy (38% of patients). Of the 42 patients who died within 30 days of RT, 31 (74%) received at least 10 fractions.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that baseline KPS <70 is independently predictive of death within 30 days of palliative intracranial RT, and that a large majority of patients who died within 30 days received at least 10 fractions. These results indicate that for poor performance status patients requiring palliative intracranial radiation, hypofractionated RT courses should be strongly considered.
Palliative radiotherapy (PRT) makes up about half of all courses delivered in radiotherapy departments. It is effective in the management of common complications of cancer and is relatively inexpensive. About one third of cancer patients receive PRT within the last 2 years of life. One quarter of all patients who receive radiotherapy will undergo a second or subsequent course, mostly for palliative indications. There is considerable variation in practice, both within and between jurisdictions. This has been attributed to inconsistencies in guidelines, physician variation and differing financial incentives. Because of the widespread use of hypofractionation, variation in PRT fractionation has a lower effect on departmental capacity than variation in radical and adjuvant treatments. Excessive fractionation places an unnecessary burden on frail patients at the end of their lives and uses scarce healthcare resources. With appropriate case selection, the increased cost of fractionation or more conformal treatments can be justified where clinical benefit is expected.
There are many additional considerations when treating older adults with cancer, especially in the context of palliative care. Currently, radiation therapy is underutilised in some countries and disease sites, but there is also evidence of unnecessary treatment in other contexts. Making rational treatment decisions for older adults necessitates an underlying appraisal of the person's physiological reserve capacity. This is termed 'frailty', and there is considerable heterogeneity in its clinical presentation, from patients who are relatively robust and suitable for standard treatment, to those who are frail and perhaps require a different approach. Frailty assessment also presents an important opportunity for intervention, when followed by Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) in those who require it. Generally, a two-step approach, with a short initial screening, followed by CGA, is advocated in geriatric oncology guidelines. This has the potential to optimise care of the older person, and may also reverse or slow the development of frailty. It therefore has an important impact on the patient's quality of life, which is especially valued in the context of palliative care. Frailty assessment also allows a more informed discussion of treatment outcomes and a shared decision-making approach. With regards to the radiotherapy regimen itself, there are many adaptations that can better facilitate the older person, from positioning and immobilisation, to treatment prescriptions. Treatment courses should be as short as possible and take into account the older person's unique circumstances. The additional burden of travel to treatment for the patient, caregiver or family/support network should also be considered. Reducing treatments to single fractions may be appropriate, or alternatively, hypofractionated regimens. In order to enhance care and meet the demands of a rapidly ageing population, future radiation oncology professionals require education on the basic principles of geriatric medicine, as many aspects remain poorly understood.
A 74-year-old man presented with recurrent syncope 3 months after definitive surgery for hypopharyngeal cancer. The patient experienced dizziness and severe hypotension on the movement of the neck and head. CT revealed disease recurrence with masses encasing the left internal carotid artery. The patient was diagnosed with vasodepressor type of tumour-induced carotid sinus syndrome (tiCSS) and was referred for palliative intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). Ten days after the commencement of IMRT (25 Gy in five fractions), the symptoms of tiCSS improved, and there was no re-exacerbation of the symptoms till the patient died 56 days after the commencement of RT. Palliative IMRT was feasible and effective for recurrent malignant tiCSS. Given the fact that palliative IMRT is minimally invasive, this option could be widely adapted for patients with such poor general condition and prognosis.
CONTEXT: Palliative radiotherapy is effective in the management of symptoms resulting from advanced cancer. However, it remains underutilised. In developed countries, many factors have been linked to this phenomenon but data in developing and low income countries, particularly in Latin America, are lacking.
OBJECTIVES: To conduct a cross-sectional survey to explore palliative care physicians' knowledge of palliative radiotherapy and to investigate possible factors that limit patient referral.
METHODS: Cross-sectional survey. An online questionnaire was sent to palliative care physicians (n=170) registered in the Chilean Medical Society's directory of Palliative Care.
RESULTS: The overall response rate was 58.8%. Nearly all respondents (98%) considered radiotherapy to be a useful treatment. Less than half the respondents (43%) had good knowledge of palliative radiotherapy. Knowledge was correlated with self-reported knowledge (p=0.015), discussing cases with radiation oncology (p=0.001) and having attended educational events on palliative radiotherapy (p=0.001). Patient reluctance, poor performance status and family reluctance were identified as major barriers to the use of palliative radiotherapy. Physicians from cities other than the capital were more likely to be concerned about barriers such as distance to radiotherapy facilities (p=0.01), the duration of the referral process (p=0.01) and the lack of a radiation oncologist available for discussing cases (p=0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Several barriers affect referral to palliative radiotherapy. Some barriers seem to be more significant for physicians practicing in cities far from cancer centres. Physicians` knowledge is less than optimal and has been identified as a barrier to referral. Educational interventions and broadening the availability of cancer treatment resources are needed in order to improve the referral process.
Aims: choosing the optimal palliative lung radiotherapy regimen is challenging. Guidance from The Royal College of Radiologists recommends treatment stratification based on performance status, but evidence suggests that higher radiotherapy doss may be associated with survival benefits. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of fractionation regimen and additional factors on the survival of palliative lung cancer radiotherapy patients.
Materials and methods: A retrospective univariable (n = 925) and multivariable (n = 422) survival analysis of the prognostic significance of baseline patient characteristics and treatment prescription was carried out on patients with non-small cell and small cell lung cancer treated with palliative lung radiotherapy. The covariates investigated included: gender, age, performance status, histology, comorbidities, stage, tumour location, tumour side, smoking status, pack year history, primary radiotherapy technique and fractionation scheme. The overall mortality rate at 30 and 90 days of treatment was calculated.
Results: univariable analysis revealed that performance status (P < 0.001), fractionation scheme (P < 0.001), comorbidities (P = 0.02), small cell histology (P = 0.02), ‘lifelong never’ smoking status (P = 0.01) and gender (P = 0.06) were associated with survival. Upon multivariable analysis, only better performance status (P = 0.01) and increased dose/fractionation regimens of up to 30 Gy/10 fractions (P < 0.001) were associated with increased survival. Eighty-five (9.2%) and 316 patients (34%) died within 30 and 90 days of treatment, respectively.
Conclusion: In this retrospective single-centre analysis of palliative lung radiotherapy, increased total dose (up to and including 30 Gy/10 fractions) was associated with better survival regardless of performance status.
Context: At our institution, clinical pathways capture physicians’ prognostication of patients being evaluated for palliative radiotherapy (PRT). We hypothesize a low utilization rate of long-course RT (LCRT) and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SAbR) among patients seen at the end-of-life, especially those with physician predicted poor prognosis.
Objective: To analyze utilization rates and predictors of LCRT and SAbR at the end-of-life.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted on patients who were evaluated for PRT between January 2017 to August 2019 and died within 90 days of consultation. Binary logistic regression was used to identify predictors for utilization of LCRT (=10 fractions) and SAbR.
Results: A total of 1,608 patients were identified, of which 1,038 patients (64.6%) were predicted to die within a year. 693 patients (66.8%) out of 1,038 were prescribed LCRT or SAbR. On multivariate analysis, patients were less likely to be prescribed LCRT if treated at an academic site (OR 0.30; 95% CI 0.23-0.39; p<0.01) and treated for bone metastases (OR 0.08; 95% CI 0.05-0.11; p<0.01) or other non-brain/non-bone metastases (OR 0.19; 95% CI 0.13-0.30; p<0.01). SAbR was less likely to be prescribed among patients predicted to die within a year (OR, 0.09; 95% CI 0.06-0.16; p<0.01), treated for bone metastases (OR, 0.13; 95% CI 0.07-0.22; p<0.01), with poor performance status (OR, 0.51; 95% CI 0.31-0.85; p=0.01), and with a breast primary (OR, 0.35; 95% CI 0.15-0.82; p=0.02).
Conclusion: Despite most patients predicted to have a limited prognosis, LCRT and SAbR were commonly prescribed at the end-of-life.
ntroduction: Patients dying a short time after receiving palliative radiation are unlikely to have received benefit and may experience harm. To monitor the potential for avoidable harm, 30-day mortality following palliative radiation has been recommended for use as a quality indicator and the Royal College of Radiologist have recommended a rate of lower than 20%. At the Canterbury Regional Cancer and Haematology Service in Christchurch, New Zealand (CRCHS), we investigated 30-day mortality and evaluated the prognostic value of the TEACHH model in our population.
Methods: Palliative treatments from two, two-year periods (2012/2013 and 2016/2017) were retrospectively reviewed. We analysed 30-day mortality and several influencing variables. Patients were divided into three groups using the TEACHH model (type of cancer, performance status, age, prior palliative chemotherapy, prior hospitalizations and hepatic metastases).
Results: There were 1744 patients; 30-day mortality was 10% and was higher in patients with lung cancer (17% vs. 8% in non–lung cancer patients, P < 0.0001), patients having less than five fractions (13% vs. 9%, P : 0.0199) and patients in TEACHH group B/C (21% in C, 11% in B and 2% in group A, P < 0.0001). The majority of treatments (84%) used five fractions or less.
Conclusions: The mortality rate is within the suggested quality indicator, and the decreasing mortality with increasing fractionation demonstrates suitable selection of patients for longer treatment regimens. The TEACHH model can be used to increase precision in estimating prognosis, identifying patients who should not receive treatment and conversely identifying those for whom a prolonged fractionation schedule may be appropriate.
Background: the TEACHH and Chow models were developed to predict life expectancy (LE) in patients evaluated for palliative radiotherapy (PRT). We sought to validate the TEACHH and Chow models in patients who died within 90 days of PRT consultation.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted on patients evaluated for PRT from 2017 to 2019 who died within 90 days of consultation. Data were collected for the TEACHH and Chow models; one point was assigned for each adverse factor. TEACHH model included: primary site of disease, ECOG performance status, age, prior palliative chemotherapy courses, hospitalization within the last 3 months, and presence of hepatic metastases; patients with 0-1, 2-4, and 5-6 adverse factors were categorized into groups (A, B, and C). The Chow model included non-breast primary, site of metastases other than bone only, and KPS; patients with 0-1, 2, or 3 adverse factors were categorized into groups (I, II, and III).
Results: A total of 505 patients with a median overall survival of 2.1 months (IQR: 0.7-2.6) were identified. Based on the TEACHH model, 10 (2.0%), 387 (76.6%), and 108 (21.4%) patients were predicted to live >1 year, >3 months to =1 year, and =3 months, respectively. Utilizing the Chow model, 108 (21.4%), 250 (49.5%), and 147 (29.1%) patients were expected to live 15.0, 6.5, and 2.3 months, respectively.
Conclusion: Neither the TEACHH nor Chow model correctly predict prognosis in a patient population with a survival <3 months. A better predictive tool is required to identify patients with short LE.
This study aimed to investigate whether the use of molecular-targeted agents could affect gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity in palliative radiotherapy (RT) for metastatic bone tumors in the abdominopelvic region. We collected data of patients who received palliative RT for bone metastases in the abdominopelvic region between 2013 and 2014 from six institutions. Data of 395 patients were collected and 184 patients received molecularly targeted therapy, of whom 80 received vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeted agents. For 556 lesions, 410 sessions of irradiation were undergone. GI toxicity of =G3 was observed in 3.8% of patients. The incidence rates of =G3 GI toxicity in patients without targeted agents use, in those using VEGF-targeted agents and in those using non-VEGF-targeted agents were 3.8, 7.5 and 1.0%, respectively. Regarding risk factors of the occurrence of =G3 GI toxicity, univariate analysis in all patients showed that a history of abdominopelvic surgery was a significant risk factor (P = 0.01), and the use of VEGF-targeted agents showed a trend of high incidence (P = 0.06). In patients using VEGF-targeted agents, both univariate and multivariate analysis showed that combined anticoagulant use (P = 0.03 and 0.01) and agent use between 1 week before and after RT (P = 0.046 and 0.03) were significant risk factors. In conclusion, the history of abdominopelvic surgery was associated with =G3 GI toxicity and the use of VEGF-targeted agents showed a trend for high incidence. When using VEGF-targeted agents, caution should be exercised in the combined use of anticoagulants and in the agent use between 1 week before and after RT.
Background: o randomized controlled trials (RCT) have yet identified the optimal palliative radiotherapy scheme in patients with incurable head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We conducted RCT to compare two radiation schemes in terms of efficacy, toxicity and quality-of-life (QoL).
Materials and methods: Patients with locally-advanced HNSCC who were ineligible for radical treatment and those with limited metastatic disease were randomly assigned in 1:1 ratio to arm 1 (36 Gy in 6 fractions, twice a week) or arm 2 (50 Gy in 16 fractions, four times a week).
Results: The trial was discontinued early because of slow accrual (34 patients enrolled). Objective response rates were 38.9% and 57.1% for arm 1 and 2 respectively (p = 0.476). The median time to loco-regional progression was not reached. The loco-regional control rates at 1 year was 57.4% and 69.3% in arm 1 and 2 (p = 0.450, HR = 0.56, 95%CI 0.12–2.58). One-year overall survival was 33.3% and 57.1%, with medians of 35.4 and 59.5 weeks, respectively (p = 0.215, HR = 0.55, 95%CI 0.21–1.43). Acute grade =3 toxicity was lower in arm 1 (16.7% versus 57.1%, p = 0.027), with the largest difference in grade 3 mucositis (5.6% versus 42.9%, p = 0.027). However, no significant deterioration in any of the patient-reported QoL-scales was found.
Conclusion: No solid conclusion could be made on this incomplete study which is closed early. Long-course radiotherapy did not show significantly better oncologic outcomes, but was associated with more acute grade 3 mucositis. No meaningful differences in QoL-scores were found. Therefore, the shorter schedule might be carefully advocated. However, this recommendation should be interpreted with great caution because of the inadequate statistical power.
PURPOSE: To characterize the participation of Radiation Oncology (RO) in reporting quality metrics through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Hospital Compare database, and to describe the association of hospital characteristics with RO-specific quality metrics.
METHODS: Data from CMS Hospital Compare, International Atomic Energy Agency's Directory of Radiotherapy Centre (IAEA DIRAC), 2010 US Census, and CMS Inpatient Prospective Payment System were linked to create an integrated dataset of geographic information, facility characteristics, and quality measures, focusing on the use of EBRT for bony metastases.
RESULTS: Of 4829 hospitals in the Hospital Compare database (HCD), 2030 had access to radiation therapy. Among these, 814 (40%) reported on the rate of guideline-concordant EBRT for bony metastases, a RO-specific quality measure. A total of 33,614 eligible cases of bony metastases treated with EBRT were sampled. Participation in quality reporting varied significantly by geography, population type, teaching status, hospital ownership, hospital type, and hospital size. The median rate of guideline-concordant palliative EBRT utilization was 89%. Nine percent of 814 centers had a compliance rate of less than 50%. On multivariate analysis, increasing number of cases sampled (OR 0.93, p=.028), increasing hospital star-rating, and above-average patient experience rating (OR 0.58, p=.024) remained significantly associated with decreased odds of falling in the lowest quartile of guideline-concordant EBRT utilization.
CONCLUSION: RO participation in a large, national quality improvement (QI) effort is nascent and reveals potential quality gaps between hospitals offering palliative EBRT for bone metastases. More robust RO-specific quality measures are needed.
Introduction: Esophagitis influences quality of life and might cause treatment interruption and hospitalization. Previous studies of risk factors focused on curative treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which often involves concomitant chemoradiation (CRT). Given the uncertainty around extrapolation of dose constraints, we analyzed risk factors in patients treated with hypofractionated palliative regimens.
Patients and methods: A retrospective review of 106 patients treated with palliative radiotherapy or CRT between 2009 and 2017 was performed. Inclusion criteria: prescribed total dose 30–54 Gy, dose per fraction 2.5–4 Gy, esophageal dose > 1 Gy. Uni- and multivariate analyses were performed in 97 eligible patients to identify predictive factors for acute esophagitis grade = 1 (CTCAE 5.0).
Results: Forty percent of patients were treated with 15 fractions of 2.8 Gy (42 Gy) and 28% also received chemotherapy according to the CONRAD study regimen (induction and concomitant Carboplatin/Vinorelbine) published by the Norwegian Lung Cancer Group. Thirty-four percent were treated with 10 fractions of 3 Gy. Stage IV NSCLC was present in 47%. Esophagus Dmax was 39 Gy (population median) and Dmean 15 Gy. Overall 31% of patients developed esophagitis (26% grade 2–3, no grade 4–5). Several dosimetric parameters correlated with the risk of esophagitis (Dmax, Dmean, D5cc, V20, V30, V35, V40). Dmax outperformed other dosimetric variables in multivariate analysis. Furthermore, concomitant chemotherapy significantly increased the risk of esophagitis, while oral steroid medication reduced it. In patients with Dmax =40 Gy a reduced Dmean (=20 Gy) was beneficial.
Conclusion: In order to reduce esophagitis after hypofractionated palliative treatment lower doses than those recommended in curative NSCLC settings are preferable. Besides esophageal dose, CRT is the main risk factor for esophagitis. Additional work is needed to confirm that steroids are able to modify the risk (or to rule out confounding effects of baseline variables not included in our database).
Hospice is central to end-of-life care. Yet to receive hospice services, Medicare beneficiaries need to forgo treatments related to their terminal conditions. Thus, patients with cancer cannot receive radiotherapy or chemotherapy, such as single-fraction radiotherapy for painful bone metastasis, for palliative purposes. To alleviate this constraint, some hospices have developed open-access programs that allow patients to receive care for their terminal conditions. These hospices, however, encounter an increase in costs without an accompanying increase in reimbursement. In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services initiated the Medicare Care Choices Model (MCCM), which allows participating hospices to provide care for beneficiaries’ terminal conditions and receive a higher payment rate. Despite this, very few hospices participate in the MCCM. To date, little is known about trends in hospices providing palliative radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This topic is particularly important now, as hospices may be reluctant to provide new, expensive immunotherapies.
Radiotherapy (RT) can be used to palliate cancer-related symptoms and improve quality of life (QoL). Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) could be a reliable, minimally invasive method to monitor patients after palliative radiotherapy. This review was performed to provide an overview of the way PROMs are currently used in follow-up after palliative RT, regarding the goal of the PROM, the type of PROMs, PROM selection, PROM completion as well as the follow-up schemes and patient adherence and attrition. Pubmed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched for articles published between 2008 and 2020. Titles and abstracts were reviewed to find relevant studies, which were advanced to full-text review. The reference lists of review articles were screened for correctness of the search and additional studies. No meta-analysis was performed. This search strategy identified 5733 studies, with 94 ultimately selected for inclusion in this topical review. We discovered a great variety of studies that used PROMs after palliative RT. We found no articles describing PROMs in routine clinical care. PROMs were exclusively used as a benchmarking tool and never to improve symptom control or QoL for individual patients. The selection process for the questionnaires, completion method and/or follow-up scheme was seldom described. We did not find any studies referencing patients' experience on PROMs. Although clear guidelines on the use of PROMs in palliative RT may be difficult to establish, more attention should be paid to the PROM aspect when writing study protocols. Furthermore, efforts should be made to introduce PROMs in routine clinical care in the context of palliative RT.