Aim of the study: The authors analyse the effect of chemotherapy on the use of additional health-care resources and report the clinical and demographic factors associated with such use.
Patients and methods: In women with breast cancer, eligible to receive first-line (neo)-adjuvant or palliative chemotherapy, consultations with health-care practitioners (general practitioners [GPs] and specialists) and admissions to emergency department and to hospital were prospectively recorded. Differences were studied according to these clinical and demographic variables: age, tumour stage, performance status, weight, height, body mass index, surgery type, chemotherapy type, number of courses, comorbidity, marital status, educational level, social status and occupational status.
Results: Among 268 patients, 124 (42.2%) required one or more non-protocol health-care encounters. 180 visits were generated (GP 23.3%, specialist 35.5%, emergency department admission 21.1%, hospital admission 8.3%, others 3.3% and more than one resource 8.3%). Of total consultations 150 (83.3%) were chemotherapy-related. The number of visits was higher in the first courses. Fever and infection were the most frequent reasons for consultation in all resources. The dependent variable: 'need for non-protocol health-care encounter in any course' was statistically associated with age (p=0.002) and marital status (p=0.021); no association was found with other variables. In multivariate analysis, age (p=0.001) and marital status (p=0.009) remained statistically significant. Younger and married patients consumed less extra health resources.
Concluding statement: Many patients receiving chemotherapy consume health-care resources in addition to their routine visits, usually treatment-related. Patients consult less in the later courses. Older and unmarried women in particular need extra care during chemotherapy.
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