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.
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.
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).
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.
Xerostomia remains one of the most common and impactful side effects associated with radiotherapy for head and neck malignancies. With improvements in oncologic therapy and an improved prognosis for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) overall, the long-standing effects of therapy have become even more significant. Recent efforts have primarily focused on prevention of this morbidity through technological advances, reductions in radiotherapy fields, and radioprotectants. The promises of de-intensified strategies and proton radiation warrant ongoing investigation. However, palliative care for and active management of xerostomia before, during, and after treatment deserve further attention and research to define optimal approaches.
We developed a predictive score system for 30-day mortality after palliative radiotherapy by using predictors from routine electronic medical record. Patients with metastatic cancer receiving first course palliative radiotherapy from 1 July, 2007 to 31 December, 2017 were identified. 30-day mortality odds ratios and probabilities of the death predictive score were obtained using multivariable logistic regression model. Overall, 5,795 patients participated. Median follow-up was 39.6 months (range, 24.5–69.3) for all surviving patients. 5,290 patients died over a median 110 days, of whom 995 (17.2%) died within 30 days of radiotherapy commencement. The most important mortality predictors were primary lung cancer (odds ratio: 1.73, 95% confidence interval: 1.47–2.04) and log peripheral blood neutrophil lymphocyte ratio (odds ratio: 1.71, 95% confidence interval: 1.52–1.92). The developed predictive scoring system had 10 predictor variables and 20 points. The cross-validated area under curve was 0.81 (95% confidence interval: 0.79–0.82). The calibration suggested a reasonably good fit for the model (likelihood-ratio statistic: 2.81, P = 0.094), providing an accurate prediction for almost all 30-day mortality probabilities. The predictive scoring system accurately predicted 30-day mortality among patients with stage IV cancer. Oncologists may use this to tailor palliative therapy for patients.
Background: Skin metastases from pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinoma (PNEC) are rare and their palliative treatment is challenging. We report our experience in the multimodal management of one of the few reported cases of metastatic PNEC with multiple visceral and subcutaneous secondary lesions, focusing on the effectiveness of palliative radiotherapy for skin metastases.
Case presentation: A 61-years old woman affected by a metastatic PNEC – with subcutaneous growing and bleeding secondary lesions (at the scalp, right scapular region and at the back of the left thoracic wall, respectively) – obtained a successful control of visceral metastases with the use of chemotherapy and an unexpected local response of her skin metastases with palliative radiotherapy. In particular, two subsequent radiation treatments were performed using different fractionation schedules (30 Gy in 10 fractions and 20 Gy in 5 fractions, respectively). Both radiation treatments were well-tolerated and patient’s quality of life was improved. Local response was maintained until patient’s death – that occurred due to cachexia.
Conclusions: The presented case highlights the effectiveness and the good tolerance of radiotherapy in the treatment of subcutaneous metastases; nevertheless, further knowledge of the optimal local palliative approach for PNEC metastatic sites is necessary. The experience gained in this work is the occasion to encourage a routine integrated multidisciplinary team management of metastatic PNECs because of their clinical complexity. The aim is to guarantee the optimization of the care with personalized and more effective systemic and local treatments – also including supportive cares and treatment-related side effects management.
The current health crisis caused by COVID-19 is a challenge for oncology treatment, especially when it comes to radiotherapy. Cancer patients are already known to be very fragile and COVID-19 brings about the risk of severe respiratory complications. In order to treat patients safely while protecting medical teams, the entire health care system must optimize the way it approaches prevention and treatment at a time when social distancing is key to stemming this pandemic. All indications and treatment modalities must be re-discussed. This is particularly the case for radiotherapy of bone metastases for which it is possible to reduce the number of sessions, the frequency of transport and the complexity of treatments. These changes will have to be discussed according to the organization of each radiotherapy department and the health situation, while medical teams must remain vigilant about the risks of complications of bone metastases, particularly spinal metastases. In this short piece, the members of the GEMO (the European Study Group of Bone Metastases) offer a number of recommendations to achieve the above objectives, both in general and in relation to five of the most common situations on radiation therapy for bone metastases.
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.