Context: Early integration of palliative care (PC) into adult oncology practice has been shown to improve quality of life and health care utilization; however, little is known about PC in young adults with cancer.
Objectives: Our primary objective was to determine rates and timing of PC consultation in young adult patients with advanced solid tumor cancer at a single institution.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of young adults of age 18–39 years with advanced solid tumor malignancy at an urban academic medical center between June 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.
Results: Of 129 patients identified, 70 of 129 (54%) had a PC consult and 34 of 70 were inpatient-only consults. PC consults occurred for a median of 104 days before death, and for those with inpatient-only consults, PC consults occurred for a median of 18 days. Patients with worse recent Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status were more likely to have had a PC consult (p < 0.001). Of the patients who died during the study period, patients with PC consults were more likely to have been hospitalized (72% vs. 47%), in the intensive care unit (21% vs. 0%), in the emergency room (ER) (72% vs. 47%), and have received chemotherapy (17% vs. 0%) within 30 days of death compared with those who did not have a consult; however, these differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusion: In this analysis, over half of young adults with advanced solid tumors received PC consults. PC consult typically occurred for one year after diagnosis and about three months before death. Additional research is needed to identify how to better integrate PC early in this patient population and assess the resulting impact.