Chemotherapy discontinuation processes in a gynecologic oncology population

Gynecol Oncol. 2021 May;161(2):508-511. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2021.03.003. Epub 2021 Mar 24.


Objective: We sought to categorize the processes by which gynecologic oncology patients stop chemotherapy and to evaluate associations between these processes and end-of-life outcome metrics.

Methods: A cohort of patients with metastatic or recurrent gynecologic cancer in an outpatient setting from January 2016 to May 2018 was identified. All deceased patients in this cohort were included for analysis. Processes of discontinuing chemotherapy were categorized as: 1) definitive decision inpatient; 2) definitive decision outpatient; 3) delayed decision (eg: treatment break and never resumed chemotherapy); 4) no decision. Associations between patient characteristics and clinical outcomes of those who made a definitive outpatient decision versus those who made any other type of decision were assessed.

Results: 220 patients were identified; 205 patients were deceased at time of analysis. Of these, 36.6% made a definitive decision to stop chemotherapy as an outpatient, while 41.5% never made a decision to discontinue chemotherapy. Making a definitive decision as an outpatient, when compared to all other decision types, was associated with significantly lower incidence of death in the hospital (5.6% vs 21.1%, p < 0.004) and hospitalization within 30 days of death (20.8% vs 56.6%, p < 0.001), and significantly increased median time from last chemotherapy to death (135.5 vs 62 days, p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Only one in three women in this cohort of patients deceased from gynecologic cancer made a definitive decision to discontinue chemotherapy in an outpatient setting, and this process was associated with improved end-of-life outcomes. Future efforts should examine the impact of interventions designed to increase the proportion of patients who transition away from chemotherapy via shared decision making in the outpatient setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / drug therapy*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / psychology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / psychology
  • Outpatients
  • Withholding Treatment


  • Antineoplastic Agents