Objectives Studies have shown improved patient quality of life with supportive care rather than aggressive treatment at the end of life. This study evaluated the symptoms that patients in Thailand with gynecologic cancers experienced and the interventions that they received at the end of life.
Methods The medical records of patients admitted to a tertiary cancer center in Thailand who died in the hospital from gynecologic malignancies between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2016 were reviewed. Inclusion criteria were patients who had been been diagnosed with gynecologic cancers (ovarian, endometrial, cervical, vulvar, or peritoneal cancers or uterine sarcomas) and had died in the hospital during that period. Patients whose medical records were incomplete or unavailable were excluded from the study. Data on demographics, symptoms, interventions, and end-of-life care were collected.
Results A total of 159 patients were included in this analysis. The mean age at death was 54.3 (range 15–91) years. Over half (54.7%) of the patients were diagnosed with ovarian or peritoneal cancer, 26.4% with uterine cancer or sarcoma, 16.4% with cervical cancer, and 1.3% with dual primary cancers. Symptoms at time of admission were poor oral intake (68.6%), abdominal distention or discomfort (63.5%), pain (42.8%), nausea or vomiting (35.2%), and fever or signs of infection (27.0%). The mean number of hospitalizations during the last 6 months was 3.6. Thirty-six patients (22.6%) had major surgery during the last 6 months of life, with 14 patients (8.8%) having it performed during their last admission before death. The mean length of the last hospital stay was 22.3 (range 6–31) days, and 61 patients (38.4%) were admitted to the intensive care unit. Eleven patients (6.9%) had chemotherapy in their last 14 days of life and 10 (6.3%) received cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Almost all patients (153, 96.2%) had do-not-resuscitate (DNR) consents. The mean time between the DNR consent and death was 6.3±9.7 days.
Conclusion Multiple hospital admissions, aggressive treatments, and invasive procedures were common among patients with gynecologic cancer at the end of life. Better symptom management, end-of-life preparation, and communication are needed to enhance patients’ quality of life in Thailand.
- end-of-life care
- palliative care
- gynecologic oncology
- gynecologic cancer
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