Study suggests more cancer patients receiving aggressive care at end of life

1 min read

More dying patients admitted to emergency rooms, intensive-care units

Researchers reviewed the records of 28,777 Medicare-eligible patients aged 65 and older who died within one year of being diagnosed with lung, breast, colorectal, and other gastrointestinal tumors between 1993 and 1996. They found that during this four-year period, the use of chemotherapy among these patients increased from 27.9 percent to 29.5 percent. Among those, the proportion receiving chemotherapy within two weeks of dying grew from 13.8 percent to 18.5 percent. “Our research has shown that the treatment of cancer patients near death is becoming increasingly aggressive and that more patients are being admitted to emergency rooms and to intensive care units during their last few weeks of life,” says the study’s first author, Craig Earle of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The findings appeared in the Jan. 15, 2004 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The research was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute.