BACKGROUND: Early integration of palliative care (PC) for patients with advanced cancer has been recommended to improve quality of care. This study aims to describe prevalence, temporal trend and predictors of PC use in metastatic breast cancer (mBCa) patients receiving critical care therapies (CCT; included invasive mechanic ventilation, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube, total parenteral nutrition, tracheostomy and dialysis).
METHODS: The National Inpatient Sample was queried for mBCa patients receiving CCT between 2005 and 2014. Annual percent changes (APC) were calculated for PC prevalence in the overall cohort and subgroups. Multivariable logistic analysis was used to explore predictors of PC use.
RESULTS: Of 5833 mBCa patients receiving CCT, 880 (15.09%) received PC. Rate of PC use increased significantly from 2.53% in 2005 to 25.96% in 2014 (APC: 35.75%; p < 0.0001). Higher increase in PC use was observed in South (from 0.65% to 27.11%; APC: 59.42%; p < 0.0001), medium bedsize hospitals (from 3.75% to 26.05%; APC: 38.16%; p = 0.0006) and urban teaching hospitals (from 4.13% to 29.86%; APC: 37.33%; p = 0.0005). Multivariable analysis revealed that year interval, urban teaching hospitals, and invasive mechanical ventilation were associated with increased PC use, while primary diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders, fractures, metastatic sites from lymph nodes and tracheostomy were associated with lower PC use.
CONCLUSIONS: PC use in mBCa patients receiving CCT increases significantly over the period. However, it still remains low. Efforts to illustrate disparities in PC use are needed to improve quality of care for mBCa patients receiving CCT, especially for those hospitalized in rural and nonteaching hospitals.
PURPOSE: There is limited evidence on the intensity of end-of-life (EOL) care for women < 65 years old, who account for about 40% of breast cancer deaths in the United States. Using established indicators, we estimated the intensity of EOL care among these women.
METHODS: We used 2000-2014 claims data from a large US insurer to identify women with metastatic breast cancer who, in the last month of their lives, had more than one hospital admission, emergency department visit, or an intensive care unit (ICU) admission and/or used antineoplastic therapy in the last 14 days of life. Using multivariate logistic regression, we assessed whether intensity of EOL care differed by demographic characteristics, socioeconomic factors, or regions.
RESULTS: Adjusted estimates show an increase in EOL ICU admissions between 2000-2003 and 2010-2014 from 14% (95% CI, 10% to 17%) to 23% (95% CI, 20% to 26%) and a small increase in emergency department visits from 10% (95% CI, 7% to 13%) to 12% (95% CI, 9% to 15%), both statistically significant. There was no statistically significant change in the proportions of women experiencing more than one EOL hospitalization (14% in 2010-2014; 95% CI, 11% to 17%) and of those receiving EOL antineoplastic treatment (24% in 2010-2014; 95% CI, 21% to 27%). Living in predominantly mixed, Hispanic, Black, or Asian neighborhoods correlated with more intense care (odds ratio, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.77 for ICU).
CONCLUSION: Consistent with findings in the Medicare population, our results suggest an overall increase in the number of ICU admissions at the EOL over time. They also suggest that patients from non-White neighborhoods receive more intense acute care.
PURPOSE: As part of a larger effort to integrate palliative care into a cancer center, we identified barriers to palliative care referral for patients with breast or gynecologic cancer and developed a pilot program to improve access to palliative care services.
METHODS: We developed a multidisciplinary steering committee to uncover barriers to palliative care referral and developed a pilot program, called the Warm Handoff. Through ongoing collaboration and midpilot feedback sessions, we identified several additional barriers and opportunities to increase access to palliative care.
RESULTS: Clinicians used the initial Warm Handoff process only 20 times over a period of 7 months. Of those calls, 10 were for issues outside of those that the Warm Handoff pilot was intended to address. During the pilot, we identified lack of access to urgent visits and clinician telephone availability for clinical case discussion as additional barriers to access. Increased collaboration led to the creation of a clinical provider of the day (CPOD) care model, which allowed for a notable increase in the capacity to see urgent consults. After this intervention, we observed an average of 19 patients seen urgently per month. In addition, there was a trend toward increasing referrals from breast oncology after the initiation of the CPOD.
CONCLUSION: A CPOD model, developed via close oncology/palliative care collaboration, resulted in increased utilization of palliative care services.
Background: Patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) have a considerable symptom burden and may require extensive care for a long period of time. Palliative care (PC) has the potential to improve their quality of care and reduce their use of medical services. However, the role of specialised PC (SPC) in patients with MBC remains unclear.
Patients and methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of the medical records of patients diagnosed with breast cancer (BC) from 2008 to 2018 at an university-based referral centre to examine the extent of early and late integration of SPC services for patients with MBC. A descriptive analysis of the patients was also established.
Results: In all, 932 patients were diagnosed with BC from 2008 to 2018; 225 of these patients had or developed metastases related to their BC. In addition, 132 patients received SPC (58.7%) and 93 patients did not receive SPC (41.3%). The median probability of overall survival (OS) for patients who did not receive SPC services was 3.6 years (95% CI 2.0 to 5.1) and 1.8 years (95% CI 1.3 to 2.3) (p<0.0001) for patients who did receive SPC. In multivariate analysis, referral to SPC services was independently associated with OS (HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.16 to 2.22, p=0.004).
Conclusion: Patients who received SPC lived significantly shorter amounts of time than patients not referred for SPC services at our hospital. We concluded that the referral to SPC services was often too late and should be implemented earlier in the course of the disease. We suggest that patients with MBC should participate in a consultation by a SPC team =60 days after the start of systemic palliative anticancer therapy in addition to endocrine treatment. Larger prospective studies are needed to evaluate the benefit of the early integration of SPC services for patients with MBC.
Introduction: Patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) often require inpatient palliative care (IPC). However, mounting evidence suggests age-related disparities in palliative care delivery. This study aimed to assess the cumulative incidence function (CIF) of IPC delivery, as well as the influence of age.
Methods: The national ESME (Epidemio-Strategy-Medical-Economical)-MBC cohort includes consecutive MBC patients treated in 18 French Comprehensive Cancer Centres. ICD-10 palliative care coding was used for IPC identification.
Results: Our analysis included 12,375 patients, 5093 (41.2%) of whom were aged 65 or over. The median follow-up was 41.5 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 40.5–42.5). The CIF of IPC was 10.3% (95% CI, 10.2–10.4) and 24.8% (95% CI, 24.7–24.8) at 2 and 8 years, respectively. At 2 years, among triple-negative patients, young patients (<65 yo) had a higher CIF of IPC than older patients after adjusting for cancer characteristics, centre and period (65+/<65: ß = -0.05; 95% CI, -0.08 to -0.01). Among other tumour sub-types, older patients received short-term IPC more frequently than young patients (65+/<65: ß = 0.02; 95% CI, 0.01 to 0.03). At 8 years, outside large centres, IPC was delivered less frequently to older patients adjusted to cancer characteristics and period (65+/<65: ß = -0.03; 95% CI, -0.06 to -0.01).
Conclusion: We found a relatively low CIF of IPC and that age influenced IPC delivery. Young triple-negative and older non-triple-negative patients needed more short-term IPCs. Older patients diagnosed outside large centres received less long-term IPC. These findings highlight the need for a wider implementation of IPC facilities and for more age-specific interventions.
Objective: To examine the association between physical activity and the reported use of complementary medicine by patients with breast and gynecological cancer referred or self-referred to a complementary/integrative medicine (CIM) consultation within a palliative care context.
Methods: Retrospective observational study analyzing the medical files of patients referred to a CIM consultation provided within a specialized integrative oncology clinic for demographic and cancer-related parameters; participation in physical exercise and activities; and current use of nonconventional medical practices. Quality of life (QoL) outcomes were assessed during the initial CIM consultation by using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) tool.
Results: Among the 162 patient files examined, participation in physical activities was reported in 152, of whom 83 were identified as active and 69 inactive according to the American Cancer Society guidelines. A logistic multivariate regression model showed that physical activity was associated with higher rates of herbal/dietary supplement use for noncancer-related outcomes (odds ratio = 7.21, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.6–32.46, p = 0.01); more frequently reported use of acupuncture for cancer-related outcomes (odds ratio = 7.79, 95% CI 1.93–31.5, p = 0.004); and lower ESAS scores for well-being (odds ratio = 0.77, 95% CI 1.0.65–0.92, p = 0.004), indicating better QoL.
Conclusion: Physical activity was found to be associated with a greater use of CIM (specifically herbal/dietary supplement use and acupuncture) in patients with breast and gynecological cancer during oncology treatment. Further research is needed to explore whether CIM use and physical activity are influenced by patients' health-belief models of care, and whether the CIM consultation can promote physical activity among these patients.
We present a case of a 64-year-old woman with stage 1 breast cancer. She underwent a modified radical mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy. She reported physical and psychosocial suffering due to her disease and treatment. Four weekly sessions of guided 30-min mindful breathing were delivered by the palliative care team to ease her suffering. The patient reported feelings of calmness, peace and relaxation after each session, with decrease in suffering, negative emotions and physical discomfort. This is the first report on the use of guided 30-min mindful breathing in palliating suffering of a patient with cancer.
Objective: In breast cancer patients, treatment at the end of life accounts for a major share of medical spending. However, little is known about the variability of cost trajectories between patients. This study aims to identify underlying latent groups of advanced breast cancer patients with similar cost trajectories over the last year before death.
Methods: data from deceased advanced breast cancer patients, diagnosed between 2010 and 2017, were retrieved from the Southeast Netherlands Advanced Breast Cancer (SONABRE) Registry. Costs of hospital care over the last twelve months before death were analyzed, and the variability of longitudinal patterns between patients were explored using group-based trajectory modeling. Descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regression were applied to investigate differences between the identified latent groups.
Results: We included 558 patients. Over the last twelve months before death, mean hospital costs were €2,255 (SD = €492) per month. Costs increased over the last five months and reached a maximum of €3,614 in the last month of life, driven by hospital admissions, while spending for medication declined over the last three months of life. Based on patients’ individual cost trajectories, we identified six latent groups with distinct longitudinal patterns, of which only two showed a marked increase in costs over the last twelve months before death. Latent groups were constituted of heterogeneous patients, and clinical characteristics explained membership only to a limited extent.
Conclusions: The average costs of advanced breast cancer patients increased towards the end of life. However, we uncovered several latent groups of patients with divergent cost trajectories, which did not reflect the overall increasing trend. The mechanisms underlying the variability in cost trajectories warrants further research.
Purpose: The goal of chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is palliation of symptoms while minimizing treatment-related toxicities. It remains unclear whether use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) to maintain relative dose intensity of chemotherapy for MBC is associated with improved clinical outcomes.
Methods: The medical records of MBC patients treated with chemotherapy in 1st–3rd-line settings between May 2010 and April 2014 were reviewed. Time to progression (TTP), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were compared between patients who received G-CSF and those who did not. Antibiotic use, total clinic visits, and pre- and post-treatment Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status were also compared between the groups.
Results: Of the 169 patients included, 55 (32.5%) received > 1 G-CSF dose and 114 (67.5%) did not receive any G-CSF. The median TTP was similar between the two groups (5.0 months (95% CI 3.4–7.1) vs. 5.2 months (95% CI 4.8–6.2) respectively; p = 0.998). The median PFS (p = 0.955; 5.0 months (95% CI 3.4–5.9) vs. 5.2 months (95% CI 4.7–6.0), respectively) and OS (14.6 (95% CI 9.0–26.6) vs. 18.5 months (95% CI 15.2–22.0) in G-CSF and non-G-CSF groups, respectively; p = 0.628) were also similar between groups. No significant between-group differences were noted in rate of decline in ECOG performance status, antibiotic use, and number of clinic visits and hospitalizations.
Conclusion: This retrospective analysis did not find any evidence that the use of G-CSF to maintain chemotherapy dose intensity for the treatment of MBC improves TTP, PFS, and OS or results in improved ECOG performance status compared with lack of G-CSF use in patients with MBC treated in 1st to 3rd-line settings.
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether combining pembrolizumab with palliative radiation therapy (RT) improves outcomes in patients with hormone receptor-positive (HR+) metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Eligible patients had HR +/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative MBC; were candidates for RT to = 1 bone, soft tissue, or lymph node lesion; and had = 1 lesion outside the RT field. Patients received 200 mg pembrolizumab intravenously 2 to 7 days prior to RT and on day 1 of repeating 21-day cycles. RT was delivered to a previously unirradiated area in 5 treatments each of 4 Gy. The primary endpoint was objective response rate. The study used a 2-stage design: 8 women were enrolled into the first stage, and if at least 1 of 8 patients experienced an objective response, 19 more would be enrolled. Secondary endpoints included progression-free survival, overall survival, and safety. Exploratory endpoints included association of overall response rate with programmed death-ligand 1 status and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.
RESULTS: Eight patients were enrolled in stage 1. The median age was 59 years, and the median prior lines of chemotherapy for metastatic disease was 2. There were no objective responses, and the study was closed to further accrual. The median progression-free survival was 1.4 months (95% confidence interval, 0.4-2.1 months), and the median overall survival was 2.9 months (95% confidence interval, 0.9-3.6 months). All-cause adverse events occurred in 87.5% of patients, including just 1 grade 3 event (elevation of aspartate aminotransferase).
CONCLUSIONS: RT combined with pembrolizumab did not produce an objective response in patients with heavily pre-treated HR+ MBC. Future studies should consider alternative radiation dosing and fractionation in patients with less heavily pre-treated HR+ MBC.
INTRODUCTION: Significant number of women present with advanced-stage breast cancer in Ghana. These women usually depend on family caregivers for their multi-dimensional needs. Yet, there are gaps in research about what motivates family caregivers to assume the caring role and their experiences with caregiving within the Ghanaian context.
AIM: To explore and describe the caregiving motivations and experiences among family caregivers of patients living with advanced breast cancer.
METHODS: In-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 15 family caregivers who were providing unpaid care for women living with advanced breast cancer. Colaizzi's thematic analysis was used to analyze the data.
RESULTS: Family relationship normally prescribed the caregiving role among family caregivers. Due to the lack of home-based palliative services in Ghana, findings suggest that family caregivers are the main managers of advanced breast cancer-related symptoms in the home. These findings are discussed under three major themes: (i) motivation for assuming the caregiving role; (ii) meeting self-care and psychosocial needs of the patient; and (iii) symptom management and monitoring.
CONCLUSION: Socio-cultural values influence the role of family caregivers in Ghana. This presents opportunities for health professionals and relevant stakeholders to develop a culturally-appropriate intervention to support informal caregivers in their home-based care for women living with advanced breast cancer in Ghana.
Context: Increasing emphasis on patient-centered care has led to highlighted importance of shared decision making, which better aligns medical decisions with patient care preferences. Effective shared decision making in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) treatment requires prognostic understanding, without which patients may receive treatment inconsistent with personal preferences.
Objectives: To assess MBC patient and provider perspectives on the role of prognostic information in treatment decision making.
Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with MBC patients and community oncologists and separate focus groups involving lay navigators, nurses, and academic oncologists. Qualitative analysis utilized a content analysis approach that included a constant comparative method to generate themes.
Results: Of 20 interviewed patients with MBC, 30% were African American. Academic oncologists were mostly women (60%), community oncologists were all Caucasian, and nurses were all women and 28% African American. Lay navigators were all African American and predominately women (86%). Five emergent themes were identified. (1) Most patients wanted prognostic information but differed in when they wanted to have this conversation, (2) Emotional distress and discomfort was a critical reason for not discussing prognosis, (3) Religious beliefs shaped preferences for prognostic information, (4) Health care professionals differed on prognostic information delivery timing, and (5) Providers acknowledged that an individualized approach taking into account patient values and preferences would be beneficial.
Conclusion: Most MBC patients wanted prognostic information, yet varied in when they wanted this information. Understanding why patients want limited or unrestricted prognostic information can inform oncologists' efforts toward shared decision making.
INTRODUCTION: Palliative care (PC) aims to treat symptoms independently of the disease. In many medical disciplines, including oncology, there is an emphasis on personalizing treatment, identifying the most effective therapeutic option by studying the genetic heritage of the patient and the molecular characteristics of the disease. PC, on the other hand, encompasses the overall (physical and spiritual) well-being of the patient and his or her caregivers. The increasing use of early PC and its integration with oncology could represent a fruitful collaboration among specialists.
CASE DESCRIPTION: We present the case of a 79-year-old woman with advanced breast cancer attending our institute who was referred to our PC Unit because of continuous ear pain, paresthesia around the mouth, strabismus, and facial dysesthesia. The patient was in good clinical condition (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group 1) and was undergoing chemotherapy at the time. For these reasons, the PC physician carefully assessed the pain characteristics and differential diagnosis and discussed them with the oncologist, radiologist, and neurologist. Joint consultation led to a specific study of Meckel cave by MRI, revealing an extrameningeal gasserian ganglion metastasis, a very rare localization of breast cancer.
CONCLUSION: We present a case that underlines the importance of specialized PC assessment not limited to the control of symptoms. The search for the etiopathogenesis of a patient's symptoms and the evaluation of overall clinical conditions may be necessary to plan appropriate diagnostic evaluations, target palliative therapies, and achieve effective symptom control.
BACKGROUND: Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is generally incurable, but patients can survive longer than those with other cancer types. Treatment strategies for MBC are complex, and it is difficult to establish evidence of efficacy since symptoms and patient backgrounds vary markedly. Some patients struggle to decide where to receive end-of-life care, despite palliative care intervention, and some die in unexpected places. With the aim of ascertaining the best way to intervene on behalf of patients with end-stage breast cancer, we retrospectively examined interventions provided by our palliative care team. We investigated factors influencing the decision-making processes of patients with MBC regarding end-of-life care locations and where patients actually died.
METHODS: Clinical records of 44 patients with MBC, all Japanese women, who received palliative care interventions at our hospital, were retrospectively investigated. We examined factors, such as age, possibly impacting decision-making processes regarding the final location and actual place of death.
RESULTS: Thirty-five (80%) patients were able to decide where to receive end-of-life care, while the others were not. For these 35 patients, desired locations were the palliative care unit (77%), home palliative care (14%), and the hospital (9%). Age and recurrence-free survival (RFS) were factors influencing patients' decision-making processes (P = .030 and .044, respectively). Of the 35 patients, 25 (71%) were able to receive end-of-life care at their desired locations.
CONCLUSIONS: Young patients and those with short RFS struggled with making decisions regarding where to receive end-of-life care. Such patients might benefit from prompt introduction of advanced care planning.
BACKGROUND: In the absence of randomized controlled trials, real-world evidence may aid practitioners in optimizing the selection of therapy for patients with cancer. The study's aim was to determine real-word use, as well as compare effectiveness, of single-agent and combination chemotherapy as palliative treatment for female patients with metastatic breast cancer (mBC).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using administrative claims data from the Symphony Health's Integrated Oncology Dataverse, female patients with mBC treated with at least one chemotherapy-only treatment (COT) between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2017 were selected. The frequency of use of single-agent versus combination chemotherapy overall and by line of therapy (LOT) was calculated whereas effectiveness was measured using time to next treatment (TNT).
RESULTS: A total of 12,381 patients with mBC were identified, and 3,777 (31%) received at least one line of COT. Of the 5,586 observed LOTs among the 3,777 patients, 66.5% were single-agent and 33.5% combination chemotherapy. Combination chemotherapy was most frequently used in first-line (45%) and least frequently in fifth-line (16%). Across all LOTs, median TNT was significantly longer for single-agent versus combination chemotherapy (5.3 months vs. 4.1 months, p < .0001). Comparison of median TNT by LOT showed significance in third-line and greater but not in first-line or second-line. Among single agents, the median TNT for patients receiving capecitabine was longest in comparison to all other single agents.
CONCLUSIONS: The frequency of combination COT use, particularly in first-line, warrants further research given published guideline recommendations. The observed TNT difference favoring single-agent treatment in later lines supports guideline recommendations. Variance between single-agent preference and observed TNT was noteworthy.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Although published data from evidence- and consensus-based guidelines recommend single-agent over combination chemotherapy, the extensive list of agents available for use and a gap in the comparative effectiveness research of these agents have resulted in significant variances in patterns of care. The aim of this study was to assess real-world treatment patterns and their effectiveness during palliative therapy of metastatic breast cancer. The objective was to understand when and how chemotherapy-only treatment is used in metastatic breast cancer and whether comparative effectiveness analysis supports the observed patterns of care.
Introduction: Custody concerns are a major source of psychosocial distress among single parents with life-limiting illness. Although children are increasingly living in diverse household structures, the current health care system is not designed to meet the unique needs of single parents or nontraditional families. Patients with unaddressed custody concerns can experience psychological suffering during treatment and at the end of life. Lack of clarity and resolution regarding guardianship may also result in additional hardship for their grieving children.
Case Description: We present the case of a 36-year-old-female with metastatic breast cancer, who was the single mother of four children. Despite significant concerns about her children's well-being, the patient did not complete legal guardianship processes. She experienced immense distress at the end of her life due to an unresolved custody plan.
Discussion: This case demonstrates the need for addressing custody and guardianship concerns with seriously ill patients early in the illness trajectory. While clinicians need not become experts on custody and guardianship themselves, understanding the impact of custody concerns-and the barriers to their resolution-can substantially improve end-of-life care for patients and better equip surviving family for the changes that lie ahead.
CONTEXT: Patients with advanced breast cancer have low rates of survival that can be associated with symptom burden.
OBJECTIVES: This study seeks to characterize the effect of longitudinally-collected symptom scores on predicting time to death for advanced breast cancer patients.
METHODS: A cohort of 993 Stage IV breast cancer patients was constructed using linked population-level health administrative databases that captured longitudinally-collected symptom data using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System. Data was captured on individual symptom scores (20,371 assessments) for pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, appetite, dyspnea, depression, anxiety and wellbeing, as well as three summative scores of total symptom distress score (TSDS), physical symptom score, and psychological symptom score. A joint modelling approach was undertaken to simultaneously model repeated measures longitudinal data and time-to-event data.
RESULTS: Of patients who died in the study, 56.11% survived for a mean time of less than three years and had lower mean symptom scores for all symptoms except shortness of breath, in comparison to patients who lived for greater than three years. Symptom burden was predictive of patient time to death for all symptoms, with risk of death increasing with worsening symptom scores. For TSDS, age at diagnosis (0.009, p<0.05), chemotherapy (-0.63, p<0.001) and palliative care (3.15, p<0.001) were significant predictors of patient time to death.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with advanced breast cancer experience chronic, ongoing low symptom burden which predicts patient time to death. Future research should examine the mechanisms by which patient characteristics, treatment, supportive and palliative care can have an impact on patient survival.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care consultation during serious life-limiting illness can reduce symptom burden and improve quality of care. However, quantifying the impact of palliative care is hindered by the limitations of manual chart review and administrative coding.
OBJECTIVES: Using novel natural language process (NLP) techniques, we examined associations between palliative care consultations and performance on nationally endorsed metrics for high-quality end-of-life (EOL) care in patients with leptomeningeal disease (LMD) secondary to metastatic breast cancer.
METHODS: Patients with breast cancer with LMD were identified using administrative billing codes and NLP review of magnetic resonance imaging reports at 2 tertiary care centers between 2010 and 2016. Next, NLP was used to review clinical notes to (1) determine the presence of palliative care consultations and (2) determine the performance of process measures associated with high-quality EOL care, including discussions of goals of care, code status limitations, and hospice. Associations between palliative care consultation and documentation of EOL process measures were assessed using logistic regression.
RESULTS: We identified 183 cases of LMD. Median age was 56 (interquartile range [IQR]: 46-64) years and median survival was 150 days (IQR: 67-350). Within 6 months of diagnosis, 88.5% of patients had documentation of =1 process measure, including discussions of goals of care (63.4%), code status limitations (62.8%), or hospice (72.1%). Palliative care consultation was a predictor of subsequent documentation of goals of care (odds ratio [OR], 3.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.58-6.27) and hospice discussions (OR, 4.61; 95% CI, 2.12-10.03).
CONCLUSION: Palliative care involvement is associated with increased performance of EOL process measures in patients with breast cancer with LMD.
Background: Anticipating and making health care decisions about appropriate or preferred treatment around end-of-life care are intellectually challenging and emotionally distressing for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients, new interventions are needed.
Objective: This study examined the effect of Four Conversations, an online and personalized coping and decision aid curriculum, on the completion of advance care directives and shared decision making among patients and their loved ones, clinicians, and spirit.
Design: Participants were randomized 1:1 to Four Conversations or wait-listed usual care conditions.
Setting: Adult breast cancer survivors with metastatic disease were recruited nationally.
Measurements: Electronic surveys collected self-reported demographic, clinical, and outcome data at baseline and four weeks postintervention.
Results: Participants (N = 252) were mean age 53.6 ± 11.0 years; 100% female; 88% Caucasian; 67% married; and 33% employed. Over half (54%) of treatment arm participants without an advance directive completed one by study end, most (62%) felt that Four Conversations helped them quite a bit or a great deal in making a better decision, and 90% would recommend to others. Difference in the change in decisional conflict scores for treatment and control conditions was not significant (p = 0.07).
Conclusions: These results suggest that Four Conversations facilitated the completion of advance care directives. Given that reductions in decisional conflict scores between the treatment and control arms were not significant, we cannot conclude that program use was associated with improved decisional conflict among MBC survivors. Online programs can be a feasible and effective alternative to in-person support.
PURPOSE: Among breast cancer subgroups, Luminal A is the subgroup with the best prognosis. We report the case of a young woman presenting with a localized luminal A breast cancer with a suspicious liver lesion on initial positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) scan staging.
CASE DESCRIPTION: A 31-year-old woman presented with localized breast cancer accessible to curative treatment. However, PET/CT staging revealed an increase of focal activity in the liver, suspicious of a secondary malignant localization, changing the care towards palliative intent. Discrepancy between breast cancer luminal A subtype and the liver lesion led to further investigations (contrast ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and biopsy), excluding a malignant process, and were in favor of toxic hepatitis, probably secondary to herbal tea consumption.
CONCLUSIONS: Questioning PET/CT findings in light of the cancer subtype enabled us to rectify the diagnosis and allow this patient to be treated with curative intent.