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.