Summaries for Patients |

Chemotherapy Use in the Last 6 Months of Life among Medicare Patients with Cancer FREE

[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

The summary below is from the full report titled “Chemotherapy Use among Medicare Beneficiaries at the End of Life.” It is in the 15 April 2003 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 138, pages 639-643). The authors are E.J. Emanuel, Y. Young-Xu, N.G. Levinsky, G. Gazelle, O. Saynina, and A.S. Ash.

Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(8):I-44. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-138-8-200304150-00005
Text Size: A A A

What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

The use of drugs to treat cancer is called chemotherapy. Some people worry that doctors prescribe chemotherapy for patients with cancer even when treatment is not likely to help the patient live longer. No studies show how frequently patients with cancer receive chemotherapy in the months before death.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see how often patients with cancer received chemotherapy in the months before they die.

Who was studied?

The researchers studied all Medicare patients with cancer in Massachusetts and a sample of Medicare patients with cancer in California who died in 1996. Medicare is the health insurance program for Americans over 65 years of age.

How was the study done?

Using Medicare databases, the researchers determined whether patients received chemotherapy in each of the 6 months before death. They compared the frequency of chemotherapy use in patients with types of cancer that usually respond to chemotherapy and in patients with types of cancer that do not usually respond to chemotherapy.

What did the researchers find?

In Massachusetts, 33% of the patients received chemotherapy in the last 6 months of life, 23% in the last 3 months of life, and 9% in the last month of life. The numbers were similar in California. Chemotherapy use was less common as patients got older. Chemotherapy use in the last 6 months of life was similar for people with types of cancer that were responsive and nonresponsive to chemotherapy.

What were the limitations of the study?

This study examined only two states and only Medicare patients. The results might be different in other locations or in other types of patients. In addition, the study does not provide information about the reasons for chemotherapy use.

What are the implications of the study?

During the last 6 months of life, many Medicare beneficiaries with cancer receive chemotherapy, regardless of the type of cancer they have. About one quarter of patients with cancer older than 65 years of age receive chemotherapy in the last 3 months of life. Unfortunately, this study does not tell us why.





Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).


Submit a Comment/Letter
Submit a Comment/Letter

Summary for Patients

Clinical Slide Sets

Terms of Use

The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.


Want to Subscribe?

Learn more about subscription options

Related Articles
Related Point of Care
Topic Collections
PubMed Articles
Forgot your password?
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.