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Ineffective Cancer Treatments Near Death Highlighted in Study

Ineffective Cancer Treatments Near Death Highlighted in Study

United States: A new study indicates that individuals who are barely hanging on are essentially useless for receiving state-of-the-art cancer therapies.

Survival Insights


According to research published May 16 in the journal JAMA Oncology, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and hormone therapy do not increase survival rates in patients with highly advanced malignancies close to the end of their lives.

Research Details

Lead researcher Maureen Canavan, an associate research scientist with Yale Cancer Center, stated, “Since we don’t see an improved survival benefit, oncologists should revisit their goals of care conversations with patients, and this information in the study should be explained to patients.”

Study Focus

More than 78,000 adult cancer patients received treatment at 280 U.S. cancer clinics between 2015 and 2019 were the subject of records analysis for this study.

The group focused on patients who were nearing the end of six prevalent cancers: bladder, kidney, pancreatic, colon, breast, and lung.


Clinical Implications


“Our goal was to determine whether receiving oncologic treatment for highly advanced tumors is linked to a higher chance of survival, or if there are instances in which continuing treatment is not beneficial and oncologists should instead concentrate on palliative and supportive care,” Canavan stated in a Yale news release.

According to the researchers, there was no statistically significant survival advantage for patients receiving systemic therapy as compared to those who did not.

Communication Challenges


Moreover, this was observed for every type of cancer that was researched.

This data expands upon a 2022 study that was also published in the journal JAMA Oncology and shown that the usage of chemotherapy has gradually decreased as patients near the end of their lives.

However, that earlier study also found that there has been a commensurate increase in the usage of more recent immunotherapy treatments.

Patient-Centered Care

That means that the use of systemic therapies overall has held steady, with about 17% of near-death patients receiving what now appears to be useless treatment, researchers said.

Doctors could best help patients by better judging when additional therapy will be futile and communicate that through a discussion of goals of care near the end of life, researchers concluded.

“We hope this information can help inform oncologists when they are deciding whether or not to continue treatment or transition patients who have metastatic disease to supportive care,” Canavan said.

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