30 day mortality in adult palliative radiotherapy--A retrospective population based study of 14,972 treatment episodes

Radiother Oncol. 2015 May;115(2):264-71. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2015.03.023. Epub 2015 Apr 7.


Background: 30-day mortality (30DM) has been suggested as a clinical indicator of the avoidance of harm in palliative radiotherapy within the NHS, but no large-scale population-based studies exist. This large retrospective cohort study aims to investigate the factors that influence 30DM following palliative radiotherapy and consider its value as a clinical indicator.

Methods: All radiotherapy episodes delivered in a large UK cancer centre between January 2004 and April 2011 were analysed. Patterns of palliative radiotherapy, 30DM and the variables affecting 30DM were assessed. The impact of these variables was assessed using logistic regression.

Results: 14,972 palliative episodes were analysed. 6334 (42.3%) treatments were delivered to bone metastases, 2356 (15 7%) to the chest for lung cancer and 915 (5.7%) to the brain. Median treatment time was 1day (IQR 1-7). Overall 30DM was 12.3%. Factors having a significant impact upon 30DM were sex, primary diagnosis, treatment site and fractionation schedule (p<0.01).

Conclusion: This is the first large-scale description of 30-day mortality for unselected adult palliative radiotherapy treatments. The observed differences in early mortality by fractionation support the use of this measure in assessing clinical decision making in palliative radiotherapy and require further study in other centres and health care systems.

Keywords: 30day mortality; Clinical indicator; Fractionation; Palliative radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • State Medicine
  • Time Factors