Inappropriate end-of-life cancer care in a generalist and specialist palliative care model: a nationwide retrospective population-based observational study
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  • Published on:
    What is inappropriate in end-of-life care?
    • Wouter W. Mellema, Pulmonologist-in-training Department of Thoracic Oncology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
    • Other Contributors:
      • Sjaak A. Burgers, Pulmonologist

    To the Editor. With interest we read the paper by Boddaert et al. [1] about quality of end-of-life cancer care in The Netherlands and recommend the authors with their work. Quality of end-of-life care is of great importance to both patient and relatives. Inappropriate interventions during the disease, certainly in the last 30 days of life, are undesirable. We agree to the benefit of a multifactorial approach in palliative care.

    Nevertheless, we have concerns about the use of the term “inappropriate care”, which was used abundantly to describe systemic anti-tumour treatment during the last 30 days of life. Treatment for patients with incurable malignancies aims to achieve two goals: optimization of the overall survival time and of quality of life. Boddaert et al focused on a small part of this complex care. Also, quantification of quality of end-of-life-care is hard, with measurable, but suboptimal indicators as place of death, systemic anti-tumour therapy during the last 30 days of life and consultation of palliative care specialists as used in this paper.

    Unfortunately, there is no optimum set for any of the indicators of (in-)appropriate care in the last 30 days of life. To aim for an as low as possible number of patients receiving systemic anti-tumour therapy during the last 30 days of their life, should not be a goal on itself. End-of-life care that actively defers from anti-tumour treatment can be potentially inappropriate too [2] and systemic treatme...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.