A quantitative analysis of palliative care decisions in acute nonlymphocytic leukemia

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1987 Feb;35(2):125-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1987.tb01341.x.


With the increasing incidence of cancer in elderly patients, decisions to adopt palliative care become particularly relevant to this patient population. In order to define characteristics of decisions to adopt palliative care, including those factors influencing whether a particular patient received palliation, the frequency of this therapeutic posture, and the duration of this treatment period, we performed a retrospective analytical survey of all patients with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL) treated at Duke University Medical Center over the past ten years. Logistic regression analysis identified several potentially significant variables influencing the decision to adopt palliative care. Using a stepwise logistic model, the only independent variable associated with adoption of palliative therapy was initial treatment off a research protocol (P = 0.0001). Initial treatment off a research protocol was itself associated with older age (P = 0.0002), nonspontaneous onset of leukemia (P = 0.005), female sex (P = 0.003), and the absence of dependent children (P = 0.01) when examined by multivariate logistic regression. The palliative treatment interval was defined as the time between the discontinuation of aggressive treatment and the patient's death. Fifty-one percent, 119 of 235 patients, received palliative care; of these, 47% were palliated from the time of diagnosis and 53% were palliated only after receiving remission induction therapy. The median duration for the palliative care period was 46 days (50 days for the initially palliated group, 24 days for the group receiving aggressive therapy.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / drug therapy
  • Leukemia / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antineoplastic Agents