Admission of metastatic cancer patients to the intensive care unit (ICU) poses medical and ethical challenges in the absence of reliable prognostic tools to guide decision-making.
We retrospectively analyzed the medical charts of 129 consecutive patients with metastatic solid tumors admitted to the ICU between January and September 2014 and identified prognostic factors (PFs) using Cox models.
The mean patient age at ICU admission was 58.9 years (range, 25-81 years; males, 51%). Performance status (PS) was 0-1 and 2-3 in 61% and 39% of the patients, respectively. The most prevalent cancers were lung cancer (20%), sarcoma (17%), and breast cancer (16%). ICU admission was attributable to the cancer itself (53%), cancer treatment toxicity (43%), and comorbidities (37%). The median overall survival (OS) after ICU admission was 2.6 months; 15% of the patients died during the ICU stay. Poor PFs for OS were PS >1 before ICU admission (p = 0.007) and ICU admission for the cancer itself (p < 10-3). After ICU discharge, 58% and 42% of the patients received systemic treatment within 12 months and showed good PS recovery, respectively. Multiple organ failure and a multidisciplinary decision to limit therapeutic efforts were poor PFs for reinitiation of systemic treatment (p = 0.2 and 0.006, respectively), and the latter was also a poor PF for PS recovery (p = 0.004).
In the ICU, the OS of adult patients with solid tumors was similar to that of the noncancer population. For ICU admissions related to the cancer itself, the prognosis is poor.

© 2022 S. Karger AG, Basel.