Palliative care consultation in pediatric oncology

Support Care Cancer. 2012 Apr;20(4):799-803. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1152-6. Epub 2011 Apr 9.


Purpose: Pediatric oncology patients benefit from the involvement of palliative care. This study examined the timing of palliative care consultation.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on all children from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario with a diagnosis of malignancy.

Results: Since 2006, 50 children with cancer were referred to palliative care. The mean time of referral after diagnosis was 461 days, with 8(16%) referred within 30 days of diagnosis, 13(26%) before a relapse occurred, 20(40%) after the first relapse, and 9(18%) after ≥2 relapses. Of the 40 patients referred to palliative care who died, 28% died at home, 30% in hospital, and 43% in hospice. Of the 49 oncology patients who died during the study period, 88% received a palliative care consult prior to death.

Conclusions: The majority of children in this study who died from cancer were referred to palliative care. Oncologists should strive to refer patients early in their disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Ontario
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors