The palliative-supportive care unit in a comprehensive cancer center as crossroad for patients' oncological pathway

Sebastiano Mercadant, Claudio Adil, Amanda Caruselli, Patrizia Ferrera, Andrea Costanzi, Paolo Marchetti, Alessandra Casuccio

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Aim The aim of this study was to assess how an admission to an acute palliative-supportive care unit (APSCU), may influence the therapeutic trajectory of advanced cancer patients. Methods A consecutive sample of advanced cancer patients admitted to APCU was assessed. The following parameters were collected: patients demographics, including age, gender, primary diagnosis, marital status, and educational level, performance status and reasons for and kind of admission, data about care-givers, recent anticancer treatments, being on/off treatment or uncertain, the previous care setting, who proposed the admission to APSCU. Physical and psychological symptoms were evaluated at admission and at time of discharge. The use of opioids was also recorded. Hospital staying was also recorded. At time of discharge the parameters were recorded and a follow-up was performed one month after discharge. Results314 consecutive patients admitted to the APSCU were surveyed. Pain was the most frequent reason for admission. Changes of ESAS were highly significant, as well as the use of opioids and breakthrough pain medications (p lt;0.0005). A significant decrease of the number of [[ampi]]on therapy[[ampi]] patients was reported, and concomitantly a significant number of [[ampi]]offtherapy[[ampi]] patients increased. At one month follow-up, 38.9% patients were at home, 19.7% patients were receiving palliative home care, and 1.6% patients were in hospice. 68.5% of patients were still living. Conclusion Data of this study suggest that the APSCU may have a relevant role for managing the therapeutic trajectory of advanced cancer patients, limiting the risk of futile and aggressive treatment while providing an appropriate care setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0157300
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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