Outpatient palliative care and thoracic medical oncology: Referral criteria and clinical care pathways. Lung cancer (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

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OBJECTIVES: Recent evidences show that early integration of palliative care (PC) with oncology has a positive impact on patients' quality of life, quality of care and costs. However, there is no consensus on outpatient referral criteria. Based on real world data, the aim of this study was to identify timing and factors associated to PC referral in patients with thoracic malignancies, and to describe their clinical care pathway. MATERIAL AND METHODS: This observational retrospective study included consecutive patients with thoracic cancer, seen for the first time at the Thoracic Medical Oncology outpatient Clinic (TMOC) of our institution, between Jan.01-Dec.31 2014. Patients were followed-up till death or Dec.31 2015. Clinical and demographic data were collected from the electronic patient records. Cox regression models were used to evaluate the association between time to Palliative care Outpatient Clinic (POC) referral and performance status (PS), disease stage and symptoms at inclusion. RESULTS: 229 patients were eligible. 98 of them (43%; 95%IC 36%-49%) were referred to the POC within a median of 30 days (IQR 4-188). 80/98 patients received simultaneous anticancer therapy and PC. Univariable analysis showed that the hazard ratio (HR) of being referred to POC was significantly higher for patients with worse PS (HR = 4.5), more advanced disease stage (HR = 3.1), pain (HR = 4.9), dyspnea (HR = 2.5) and cough (HR = 2.2). The multivariable model confirmed independent prognostic value for PS, disease stage and pain. On Dec.31, 2015, 25/98 patients were still alive, 8 were lost at follow up and 65 had died. Among the latter, 61% died with hospice or home care, and, in the last 30 days of life, 16% received chemotherapy and 29% were admitted to hospital. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest considering symptom burden, PS and disease stage as screening criteria for referral to PC in patients with thoracic malignancies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-17
Number of pages5
JournalLung Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • *Lung cancer
  • *Early palliative care
  • *Outpatient palliative care
  • *Referral criteria
  • *Thoracic cancer
  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung/pathology/therapy
  • Ambulatory Care/*standards
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung/pathology/*therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/pathology/therapy
  • Critical Pathways/*statistics & numerical data
  • Lung Neoplasms/pathology/*therapy
  • Outpatients/statistics & numerical data
  • Palliative Care/*standards
  • Referral and Consultation/*statistics & numerical data
  • Thoracic Neoplasms/pathology/*therapy


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