Palliative Radiotherapy During the Last Month of Life: Have COVID-19 Recommendations Led to Reduced Utilization?

In Vivo. 2021 Jan-Feb;35(1):649-652. doi: 10.21873/invivo.12304.


Background/aim: The study aimed to evaluate practice changes in the time period of the early wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patients and methods: This was a retrospective single institution study. We defined palliative radiotherapy (PRT) initiated before Saturday, March 14th as pre-COVID and PRT initiated later as during-COVID (through June 30th).

Results: National COVID-19 recommendations led to a significant decrease in PRT with 10 or more fractions, while re-irradiation and radiotherapy during the final 30 days of life were equally common before and after these recommendations had been issued in March 2020.

Conclusion: Rapid adoption of modified PRT regimens was feasible. However, the challenge of overtreatment in the final phase of the disease, due to inaccurate survival prediction, persisted.

Keywords: COVID-19; Radiotherapy; palliative treatment; prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Medical Oncology / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / classification
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Pandemics
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Radiotherapy / methods
  • Radiotherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology
  • Time Factors