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Study demonstrates that earlier end of life care discussions are linked to less aggressive care in final days of life
Date:11/13/2012

In this News Digest:

  • Summary of a study being published online November 13, 2012 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, reporting that earlier discussions about end of life (EOL) care preferences are strongly associated with less aggressive care in the last days of life and increased use of hospice care for patients with advanced cancer.
  • EOL care discussions that took place before the last 30 days of life resulted in less frequent use of chemotherapy in the last 14 days of life and lower use of acute or ICU care in the last 30 days of life, which are both known to impact quality of life in patients' final days.
  • Quote for attribution to Sandra M. Swain, MD, ASCO President
  • Links to additional information on Cancer.Net, ASCO's cancer information Website

A large population- and health systems-based prospective study reports earlier discussions about end of life (EOL) care preferences are strongly associated with less aggressive care in the last days of life and increased use of hospice care for patients with advanced cancer. The study, published November 13 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, provides the first-of-its kind scientific evidence that timing of EOL care discussions affects decisions about EOL care.

The findings suggest that initiating EOL care discussions before the last month of life provides the patients opportunity to make decisions regarding their EOL care preferences in a way that late discussions don't seem to do. Patients need time to process the information with their family and make good plans based on that information.

National guidelines recommend that oncologists initiate discussions about EOL care soon after a diagnosis of advanced cancer in order to ensure care aligns with patient goals and wishes. Current guidelines state that conversations should happen "during periods of relative medical stability rather than acute deterioration, and with physicians that k
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Contact: Amanda Narod
amanda.narod@asco.org
571-483-1364
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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