Characteristics of lung cancer patients can aid early assessment of palliative care

Prognostic factors to guide decisions on early assessment for palliative care for lung cancer patients.

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This study was conducted by Maria Kelly in collaboration with Ailish Hannigan from the University of Limerick, Michael Lucey from Milford Hospice and University Hospital Limerick and colleagues at the NCRI: Katie O’Brien and Kerri Clough-Gorr.

The aim was to compare characteristics of newly diagnosed lung cancer patients dying within 30 days of diagnosis (short term survivors) with those surviving more than 30 days.

A second aim was to examine the association between receiving any tumour-directed treatment, place of death and survival time.

The authors found that one in five newly diagnosed lung cancer patients died within 30 days of diagnosis. A high proportion of lung cancer patients who die within 30 days of diagnosis are older, have comorbidities and are admitted through the emergency department. These characteristics, available at diagnosis, may be useful prognostic factors to guide decisions on early assessment for palliative care for lung cancer patients.

Furthermore, three quarters of the short term survivors (those who died within 30 days) died in hospital, compared to 43% of the longer term survivors, so reporting place of death by survival time may be useful to evaluate interventions to reduce deaths in acute hospitals.

The article is published in BMC Palliative Care and is available for download here.

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