Study highlights need for caution in use of palliative chemotherapy

Categories: Research.

The study by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Weill Cornell Medical College found that, while 80% of patients who did not receive palliative chemotherapy died where they wished, only 68% of those whose disease management included palliative chemotherapy died in the place they wanted to.

Nearly 66% of patients who did not receive palliative chemotherapy died at home, compared to 47% of patients who received palliative chemotherapy. And patients who received palliative chemotherapy were much more likely than their counterparts to die in an intensive-care unit – a contrast of 11% to 2%.

The use of chemotherapy was also associated with an increased risk of undergoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation or both.

The findings underscore a disconnect between the type of care many cancer patients say they want and the kind they receive, and highlight the need for clearer and more balanced discussion of palliative chemotherapy at the end of life by doctors, patients and families.

For further details of the study, visit the USA edition of ehospice, or the BMJ article.

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