Trends and outcomes of early and late palliative care consultation for adult patients with glioblastoma: A SEER-Medicare retrospective study

Neurooncol Pract. 2022 Mar 30;9(4):299-309. doi: 10.1093/nop/npac026. eCollection 2022 Aug.


Background: Glioblastoma (GBM) carries a poor prognosis despite standard of care. Early palliative care (PC) has been shown to enhance survival and quality of life while reducing healthcare costs for other cancers. This study investigates differences in PC timing on outcomes for patients with GBM.

Methods: This study used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare data from 1997 to 2016. Based on ICD codes, three groups were defined: (1) early PC within 10 weeks of diagnosis, (2) late PC, and (3) no PC. Outcomes were compared between the three groups.

Results: Out of 10 812 patients with GBM, 1648 (15.24%) patients had PC consultation with an overall positive trend over time. There were no significant differences in patient characteristics. The late PC group had significantly higher number of hospice claims (1.06 ± 0.69) compared to those without PC, in the last month of life. There were significant differences in survival among the three groups (P < .0001), with late PC patients with the longest mean time to death from diagnosis (11.72 ± 13.20 months).

Conclusion: We present the first investigation of PC consultation prevalence and outcomes, stratified by early versus late timing, for adult GBM patients. Despite an overall increase in PC consultations, only a minority of GBM patients receive PC. Patients with late PC had the longest survival times and had greater hospice use in the last month of life compared to other subgroups. Prospective studies can provide additional valuable information about this unique population of patients with GBM.

Keywords: glioblastoma; healthcare costs; hospice; palliative care; resource utilization.