Little is known about the use of palliative and hospice care and their impact on healthcare utilization near the end of life (EOL) in early-onset pancreatic cancer (EOPC).
Patients with EOPC (≤ 50 years) were identified using the institutional tumor registry for years 2011-2018, and demographic, clinical, and rates of referral to palliative and hospice services were obtained retrospectively. Predictors of healthcare utilization, defined as use of ≥ 1 emergency department (ED) visit or hospitalization within 30 days of death, place of death (non-hospital vs. hospital), and time from last chemotherapy administration prior to death, were assessed using descriptive, univariable, and multivariable analyses including chi-square and logistic regression models.
A total of 112 patients with EOPC with a median age of 46 years (range, 29-50) were studied. Forty-four percent were female, 28% were Black, and 45% had metastatic disease. Fifty-seven percent received palliative care at a median of 7.8 weeks (range 0-265) following diagnosis. The median time between last chemotherapy and death was 7.9 weeks (range 0-102). Seventy-four percent used hospice services prior to death for a median of 15 days (range 0-241). Rate of healthcare utilization at the EOL was 74% in the overall population. Black race and late use of chemotherapy were independently associated with increase in ED visits/hospitalization and hospital place of death.
Although we observed early referrals to palliative care among patients with newly diagnosed EOPC, short duration of hospice enrollment and rates of healthcare utilization prior to death were substantial.