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Haematological cancer versus solid tumour end-of-life care: a longitudinal data analysis
  1. So-Young Yang1,
  2. Sun-Kyeong Park2,
  3. Hye-Rim Kang1,
  4. Hye-Lin Kim3,
  5. Eui-Kyung Lee1 and
  6. Sun-Hong Kwon1
  1. 1School of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Korea (the Republic of)
  2. 2College of Pharmacy, Catholic University of Korea, Bucheon, Korea (the Republic of)
  3. 3College of Pharmacy, Sahmyook University, Nowon-gu, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of)
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sun-Hong Kwon, School of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Korea (the Republic of); sh.kwon{at}


Objective To explore differences in end-of-life healthcare utilisation and medication costs between patients with haematological malignancies and patients with solid tumours.

Methods Data on deceased patients with cancer were selected from the sample cohort data of health insurance claims from 2008 to 2015 in South Korea. They were categorised into two groups: patients with haematological malignancies and patients with solid tumours. Longitudinal data comprised the patient-month unit and aggregated healthcare utilisation and medication cost for 1 year before death. Healthcare utilisation included emergency room visits, hospitalisation and blood transfusions. Medication costs were subdivided into anticancer drugs, antibiotics, opioids, sedatives and blood preparation. Generalised linear mixed models were used to evaluate differences between the two groups and time trends.

Results Of the 8719 deceased patients with cancer, 349 died from haematological malignancies. Compared with solid tumours, patients with haematological malignancies were more likely to visit the emergency room (OR=1.36, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.69) and receive blood transfusions (OR=5.44, 95% CI 4.29 to 6.90). The length of hospitalisation of patients was significantly different (difference=2.49 days, 95% CI 1.75 to 3.22). Medication costs, except for anticancer treatment, increased as death approached. The costs of antibiotics and blood preparations were higher in patients with haematological malignancies than in those with solid tumours: 3.24 (95% CI 2.14 to 4.90) and 4.10 (95% CI 2.77 to 6.09) times higher, respectively.

Conclusions Patients with haematological malignancies are at a higher risk for aggressive care and economic burden at the end of life compared with those with solid tumours. Detailed attention is required when developing care plans for end-of-life care of haematological patients.

  • cancer
  • drug administration
  • haematological disease
  • supportive care
  • terminal care

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  • Contributors Conception and design: S-YY, E-KL, S-KP, S-HK. Acquisition of data and statistical analysis: S-YY, E-KL. Analysis and interpretation of data: S-YY, S-HK. Drafting of the manuscript: S-YY, S-HK. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: H-LK, S-HK. Administrative, technical or material support: S-YY, S-KP, E-KL, H-RK, H-LK. Supervision: S-HK, E-KL.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the institutional review board of Sungkyunkwan University (approval no. 2017-06-005).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. The National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort’s (NHIS-NSC) database in South Korea was used.