Background: Cancer is the third leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults (AYA). Little is known, however, about how end-of-life unfolds for those who die of progressive disease. In order to better evaluate the specific needs of these patients, we performed this study providing baseline information about end-of-life care patterns for AYA in our department.
Patients: A standardised form was used to collect data concerning all 45 patients treated for a malignancy in the Paediatric and Adolescent Oncology Department at the Gustave Roussy Institute, and who had died of progressive disease above 13 years of age, over a two-year period.
Results: The main diagnoses were sarcomas and brain tumours. Previous cancer-directed treatment included a median of 3 different chemotherapy regimens, high-dose chemotherapy with haematopoietic stem cell support for 13% and radiotherapy for 40%. One in every four patients had been enrolled in a clinical trial at diagnosis. Median survival was 18 months after the diagnosis and 7 months after the first relapse/progression. During the last week of life, the median number of physical symptoms was 4, mostly pain and dyspnoea. Frequent psychological symptoms were sadness, anxiety, fear and guilt. End-of-life care included transfusions, artificial nutrition, corticosteroids, pain control, sedation but also palliative chemotherapy. The median time spent in hospital during the last month of life was 16 days. Most patients had died in hospital.
Conclusions: The terminally ill adolescent displays notable challenges to care providers and requires a holistic approach with the help of a multidisciplinary team.
L’objectif de cet article est de poser les enjeux de la médecine palliative pédiatrique en France en 2016 : les enjeux pour les enfants, pour les parents, pour les acteurs de soin et les enjeux plus généraux à envisager ou en cours de développement.