Use of palliative chemotherapy and icu admissions in gastric and esophageal cancer patients in the last phase of life: A nationwide observational study

Joost Besseling*, Jan Reitsma, Judith A. van Erkelens, Maike H. J. Schepens, Michiel P. C. Siroen, Cathelijne M. P. Ziedses des Plantes, Mark I. van Berge Henegouwen, Laurens V. Beerepoot, Theo Van Voorthuizen, Lia Van Zuylen, Rob H. A. Verhoeven, Hanneke van Laarhoven*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Since intensive care unit (ICU) admission and chemotherapy use near death impair the quality of life, we studied the prevalence of both and their correlation with hospital volume in incurable gastroe-sophageal cancer patients as both impair the quality of life. We analyzed all Dutch patients with incurable gastroesophageal cancer who died in 2017–2018. National insurance claims data were used to determine the prevalence of ICU admission and chemotherapy use (stratified on previous chemotherapy treatment) at three and one month(s) before death. We calculated correlations between hospital volume (i.e., the number of included patients per hospital) and both outcomes. We included 3748 patients (mean age: 71.4 years; 71.4% male). The prevalence of ICU admission and chemotherapy use were, respectively, 5.6% and 21.2% at three months and 4.2% and 8.0% at one month before death. Chemotherapy use at three and one months before death was, respectively, 4.3 times (48.0% vs. 11.2%) and 3.7 times higher (15.7% vs. 4.3%), comparing patients with previous chemotherapy treatment to those without. Hospital volume was negatively correlated with chemotherapy use in the final month (rweighted = −0.23, p = 0.04). ICU admission and chemotherapy use were relatively infrequent. Oncologists in high-volume hospitals may be better equipped in selecting patients most likely to benefit from chemotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number145
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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