Clinical recommendation ignored for nearly 60% of dying cancer patients

More than half of cancer patients receive intensive end-of-life care, even though clinical recommendations encourage reducing intensive treatment at the end of life, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers analyzed national Medicare and Veterans Health Administration data. The study included 48,937 adult ages 66 years ore more, who received care between 2010 and 2014. The study participants died of cancer.

More than half (58.9 percent) received at least one medically intensive treatment service in the last month of life.

Patients who did not receive medically intensive treatments generated an average cost of $7,660 to the health system, while those who received one or more intensive end-of-life treatments generated $23,612 in health system costs.

Average expected cost to patients who received at least one intensive treatments at the end of life was $1,257, compared to $133 for patients who did not receive intensive treatments.

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