Nearly Half of Pediatric Oncology Patients Receive No Palliative Care
Only about half (54.5%) of pediatric oncology patients received any palliative care service prior to death, according to a recent review of the literature.1
“With the push for early palliative care integration, it is clinically important to understand the current epidemiology of pediatric palliative care provision,” says Brian Cheng, the study’s lead author and an MD candidate at Northwestern University. The analysis of 16 studies revealed palliative care discussions do not happen until late in the illness trajectory. Further, the review revealed palliative care does not begin until close to time of death.
The American of Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting palliative care at diagnosis for children with cancer. “Providers should assess children individually and discuss with families the potential benefits of palliative care,” Cheng suggests.
A second study showed that of 10,960 hospitalizations of children with cancer and high in-hospital mortality risk, only about one in 20 received palliative care.2 That study also linked palliative care to lower costs for medical facilities.
“There is a continued need for large, high-quality studies on palliative care provision in children with cancer,” says Cheng, who also served as the lead author on the second study.
- Cheng BT, Rost M, De Clercq E, et al. Palliative care initiation in pediatric oncology patients: A systematic review. Cancer Med 2019;8:3-12.
- Cheng BT, Wangmo T. Palliative care utilization in hospitalized children with cancer. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2020;67:e28013.
An analysis revealed palliative care discussions do not happen until late in the illness trajectory. Further, the review revealed actual palliative care does not begin until close to time of death.
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