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Characteristics of untreated cancer patients admitted to an acute supportive/palliative care unit

      Abstract

      Aim

      To assess the characteristics of patients who had never received anticancer treatments at admission of an acute supportive palliative care unit (ASPCU).

      Methods

      From a consecutive sample of 422 advanced cancer patients, 62 patients with no previous anticancer therapy were selected and compared with a random sample of patients who had received anticancer treatments.

      Results

      Patients without previous anticancer therapy (14.7%) were mainly admitted to ASPCU for a low KPS and high symptom burden, often waiting for or needing a histological diagnosis to make a decision for the next therapeutic steps. This group of patients were older (P<0.0005), more frequently males (P=0.007), and had more comorbidities (P<0.0005) in comparison with treated patients. Twenty-four per cent of these patients started chemotherapy subsequently. Treatment-naive patients had a higher level of symptom burden, which was less responsive to a comprehensive palliative and more frequently died within three months in comparison with treated patients.

      Discussion

      Treatment-naive patients showed a higher level of symptom burden, which was less responsive to a comprehensive palliative treatment. In addition they more frequently died within three months in comparison with treated patients.

      Key-words

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