Background: The American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends that patients with advanced cancer receive dedicated palliative care services early in their disease course. This investigation serves to understand how palliative care services are utilized for ovarian cancer patients in a tertiary referral center.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of women treated for ovarian cancer at our institution from 2010 through 2015. Clinical variables included presence and timing of palliative care referral. Data were correlated utilizing univariable and multivariable parametric and non-parametric testing, and survivals were analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method and cox-proportional hazard models.
Results: We identified 391 women treated for ovarian cancer, of whom 68% were diagnosed with stage III or IV disease. Palliative care referral was utilized in 28% in the outpatient (42%) and inpatient (58%) settings. Earlier use of referral was observed in those who never underwent surgical cytoreduction or had interval cytoreductive surgery (p < 0.001). Palliative care referral was independently associated with advanced stage (OR 1.7, p = 0.02), recurrence (OR 2.0, p = 0.002) and hospice referral (OR 6.0, p < 0.001). In 38% of women referral occurred within 30 days of death, and 17% within one week of death. Outpatient initial consultation was associated with an unadjusted 1 year overall survival benefit (p < 0.01) compared to inpatient consultation.
Conclusions: The outcomes in this study suggest a late use of palliative care that is reactionary to patient needs and not a routine component of ovarian cancer care as national guidelines recommend.
Keywords: Ovarian cancer; Palliative care; Quality of life.
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