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Retrospective review of end-of-life care in the last month of life in older patients with multiple myeloma: what collaboration between haematologists and palliative care teams?

Abstract

Objectives Patients with haematological malignancies (HM) receive more aggressive treatments near the end-of-life (EOL) than patients with solid tumours. Palliative care (PC) needs are less widely acknowledged in patients with multiple myeloma (MM) than in other HM. The main objective of our study was to describe EOL care and PC referral in a population of older patients with MM.

Methods We retrospectively included deceased inpatients and outpatients with an MM previously diagnosed at the age of 70 and over in two tertiary centres in France. We reported EOL characteristics regarding treatments considered to be aggressive—antimyeloma therapies, hospitalisations, blood product transfusions, intensive care units (ICUs) or emergency admissions—and PC referral.

Results We included 119 patients. In their last month of life, 75 (63%) were hospitalised for fever, pain, asthenia, anaemia or bleeding, 49 (41%) were admitted in the emergency department and 12 (10%) in ICU, 76 (64%) still received antimyeloma therapy and 45 (38%) had at least two transfusions. Only 24 (20%) received PC intervention for pain, global care, family support, anxiety, social care or confusion. Median follow-up until death was 20 days.

Conclusions Our study found a high rate of hospitalisations and antimyeloma therapies in the last month of life. The PC referral rate was low, often once specific treatments were stopped. Our results suggest the need for more effective collaboration between PC teams and haematologists in order to respond to the specific needs of these patients and to improve their quality of care at EOL.

  • end of life care
  • haematological disease

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