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      Palliative Medicine Referral and End-of-Life Interventions Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Patients With Advanced or Recurrent Gynecologic Cancer


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          Referral to palliative medicine (PM) has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce hospitalizations, and improve survival. Limited data exist about PM utilization among racial minorities with gynecologic malignancies. Our objective was to assess differences in palliative medicine referrals and end of life interventions (within the last 30 days of life) by race and ethnicity in a diverse population of gynecologic oncology patients.


          A retrospective cohort study of patients receiving gynecologic oncologic care at a tertiary referral center between 2017 – 2019 was conducted. Patients had either metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis or recurrence. Demographic and clinical data were abstracted. Exploratory analyses were done using chi-square and rank sum tests. Tests were two-sided with significance set at P < .05.


          A total of 186 patients were included. Of those, 82 (44.1%) were referred to palliative medicine. Underrepresented minorities accounted for 47.3% of patients. English was identified as the primary language for 69.9% of the patients and Spanish in 24.2%. Over 90% of patients had insurance coverage. Ovarian cancer (37.6%) and uterine cancer (32.8%) were the most common sites of origin. Most patients (75%) had advanced stage at the time of diagnosis. Race and language spoken were not associated with referral to PM. Black patients were more likely to have been prescribed appetite stimulants compared to White patients (41% vs 24%, P = .038). Black patients also had a higher number of emergency department visits compared to White patients during the study timeframe. Chemotherapy in the last 30 days of life was also more likely to be given to Black patients compared to White ( P = .019).


          Race was associated with variation in interventions and healthcare utilization near end-of-life. Understanding the etiologies of these differences is crucial to inform interventions for care optimization as it relates specifically to the health of minority patients.

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          Most cited references32

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          Cancer statistics, 2022

          Each year, the American Cancer Society estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths in the United States and compiles the most recent data on population-based cancer occurrence and outcomes. Incidence data (through 2018) were collected by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program; the National Program of Cancer Registries; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. Mortality data (through 2019) were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2022, 1,918,030 new cancer cases and 609,360 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States, including approximately 350 deaths per day from lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death. Incidence during 2014 through 2018 continued a slow increase for female breast cancer (by 0.5% annually) and remained stable for prostate cancer, despite a 4% to 6% annual increase for advanced disease since 2011. Consequently, the proportion of prostate cancer diagnosed at a distant stage increased from 3.9% to 8.2% over the past decade. In contrast, lung cancer incidence continued to decline steeply for advanced disease while rates for localized-stage increased suddenly by 4.5% annually, contributing to gains both in the proportion of localized-stage diagnoses (from 17% in 2004 to 28% in 2018) and 3-year relative survival (from 21% to 31%). Mortality patterns reflect incidence trends, with declines accelerating for lung cancer, slowing for breast cancer, and stabilizing for prostate cancer. In summary, progress has stagnated for breast and prostate cancers but strengthened for lung cancer, coinciding with changes in medical practice related to cancer screening and/or treatment. More targeted cancer control interventions and investment in improved early detection and treatment would facilitate reductions in cancer mortality.
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            Early palliative care for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer.

            Patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer have a substantial symptom burden and may receive aggressive care at the end of life. We examined the effect of introducing palliative care early after diagnosis on patient-reported outcomes and end-of-life care among ambulatory patients with newly diagnosed disease. We randomly assigned patients with newly diagnosed metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer to receive either early palliative care integrated with standard oncologic care or standard oncologic care alone. Quality of life and mood were assessed at baseline and at 12 weeks with the use of the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung (FACT-L) scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, respectively. The primary outcome was the change in the quality of life at 12 weeks. Data on end-of-life care were collected from electronic medical records. Of the 151 patients who underwent randomization, 27 died by 12 weeks and 107 (86% of the remaining patients) completed assessments. Patients assigned to early palliative care had a better quality of life than did patients assigned to standard care (mean score on the FACT-L scale [in which scores range from 0 to 136, with higher scores indicating better quality of life], 98.0 vs. 91.5; P=0.03). In addition, fewer patients in the palliative care group than in the standard care group had depressive symptoms (16% vs. 38%, P=0.01). Despite the fact that fewer patients in the early palliative care group than in the standard care group received aggressive end-of-life care (33% vs. 54%, P=0.05), median survival was longer among patients receiving early palliative care (11.6 months vs. 8.9 months, P=0.02). Among patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, early palliative care led to significant improvements in both quality of life and mood. As compared with patients receiving standard care, patients receiving early palliative care had less aggressive care at the end of life but longer survival. (Funded by an American Society of Clinical Oncology Career Development Award and philanthropic gifts; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01038271.)
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              Integration of Palliative Care Into Standard Oncology Care: American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline Update


                Author and article information

                Cancer Control
                Cancer Control : Journal of the Moffitt Cancer Center
                SAGE Publications (Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA )
                10 February 2023
                Jan-Dec 2023
                : 30
                : 10732748231157191
                [1 ]Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Ringgold 12235, universityUniversity of Miami Miller School of Medicine; , Miami, FL, USA
                [2 ]Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, Ringgold 12235, universityUniversity of Miami Miller School of Medicine; , Miami, FL, USA
                Author notes
                [*]Angel Tabuyo-Martin, Gynecology Oncology, University of Miami, 1121 NW 14th St, Suite 345C, Miami, FL, USA. Email: adt66@ 123456miami.edu

                Contributed equally.

                Author information
                © The Author(s) 2023

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

                : 27 October 2022
                : 22 December 2022
                : 26 January 2023
                Cancer in Women of the African Diaspora-Original Research Article
                Custom metadata
                January-December 2023

                cancer,palliative care,health care,health care disparities,end-of-life,gynecologic oncology


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