Routine clinical data predict survival after palliative radiotherapy: an opportunity to improve end of life care.

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Routine clinical data predict survival after palliative radiotherapy: an opportunity to improve end of life care.

Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2013 Nov;25(11):668-73

Authors: Williams M, Woolf D, Dickson J, Hughes R, Maher J, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre

Abstract
AIMS: Estimating the prognosis of cancer patients with incurable disease remains an important and difficult task for clinicians. Radiotherapy is a commonly used modality for palliation of symptoms, and we investigated whether we could predict differences in overall survival after the first course of palliative radiotherapy using routinely available data.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We examined variations in survival in 1226 patients after their first course of palliative radiotherapy in relation to cancer type, site treated, age, gender and socioeconomic status, and developed a multivariate model based on these.
RESULTS: The median overall survival after the first course of palliative radiotherapy was 5.2 months. Large differences in survival were seen, depending on the primary tumour and the site treated. Survival was much better in those with breast (median overall survival 11.4 months) or prostate cancer (8.4 months, hazard ratio = 1.3) than in those with oesophageal/gastro-oesophageal junctional tumours (4.6 months, hazard ratio = 2.3) or lung (3.9 months, hazard ratio = 2.5). The treated site was an important prognostic factor (primary tumour versus bone metastases, hazard ratio = 1.3; versus brain metastases, hazard ratio = 2.1).
CONCLUSIONS: The median overall survival after a first course of palliative radiotherapy was less than 6 months. Simple data, provided as part of routine radiotherapy practice, clearly discriminate between patients with very different prognoses. Such data could therefore be used to trigger appropriate end of life care.

PMID: 23830971 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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