Clinical needs of patients referred early to supportive and palliative care.

Patient and Survivor Care
Session Type and Session Title: 
General Poster Session, Patient and Survivor Care
Abstract Number: 


J Clin Oncol 30, 2012 (suppl; abstr 9065)
Jung Hye Kwon, David Hui, Caroline Ann Ha, Gary B. Chisholm, Sriram Yennurajalingam, Jung Hun Kang, Eduardo Bruera; Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University Medical Center, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea; University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; Biostatistics University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; Division of Hematooncology, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, South Korea

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Abstract Disclosures


Background: Palliative care is evolving from delivering care to patients at the end-of-life to those earlier in the disease trajectory. We evaluated the differences in clinical characteristics, symptoms burdens, and service utilization between traditional palliative care patients (late referrals, LR) and the new patients group who are in earlier in their course of disease (early referrals, ER). Methods: We reviewed consecutive cancer patients referred to the Supportive Care Clinic with follow up visit within 30 days between August 2008 and October 2010. Patients were divided into two groups: ER (defined as patients with expected survival ≥ 2 years or receiving treatment for curative intent) and LR (all others). We compared clinical characteristics, symptoms and service utilization between both groups using chi-square test and Wilcoxon rank sum test. Results: 58% (695/1208) patients had a 2nd visit within 30 days. Among them, 100 patients were classified as ER (14.4%) and 100/595 LR were randomly selected as the comparison group. ER patients were younger (median age 54 years vs 60 years, p=0.009), more likely to have head and neck cancer (67% vs 6%, p<0.001) and to have a shorter interval between cancer diagnosis and palliative care consultation (3.8 m vs 16.2 m, <0.001). ER patients were also more likely to be CAGE positive (15% vs 4%, p=.014), referred from radiation oncology (49% vs 3%, p<0.001), referred for treatment related side effects (70% vs 9%, p<0.001), and receiving active anti-cancer treatment at the time of consultation (74% vs 48%, p=0.0002). Baseline symptoms (Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale) were similar between ER and LR except for insomnia (1.8 vs 2, p=0.004). LR patients experienced greater improvement in the symptom distress score (-5.5 vs -3, p=0.007). Overall median number of medical visits was 24 for ER vs 10.5 for LR (p<0.001); however, median visit per month was 4.3 for LR and 2.1 for ER (p<0.001). Conclusions: ER was associated with different patient characteristics; patients have similar distress but different needs and outcomes as compared to traditional LR patients.