Costly, aggressive treatments often used on end-stage cancer patients

Many patients with late-stage cancers pursue aggressive treatment options instead of end-of-life care, according to a study published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum.

For the study, researchers examined clinical data on 100,848 metastatic lung, colorectal, breast and pancreatic cancer patients from the National Cancer Data Base. Patients all died within one month of being diagnosed between 2004 and 2014. 

They found treatments varied based on cancer type, age, insurance and type of healthcare facility. However, many patients still sought aggressive treatments despite the advanced stage of their cancers. About 28 percent of colorectal cancer patients underwent surgery, and 18.7 percent of lung cancer patients had radiation.

The researchers concluded more research is needed to better identify cancer patients who will not benefit from these types of aggressive and expensive treatments.

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