Research Article

Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 14, Issue 9, pp 667-674

First online:

Chemotherapy at the end of life: up until when?

  • Jaime Sanz OrtizAffiliated withServicio de Oncología Médica y Cuidados Paliativos, Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla Email author 

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The aim of this study is to analyze the use of CT in terminal stage cancer and the percentage of patients who received UCPD in 2009 and 2010 on the Medical Oncology and Palliative Home Care integrated service (UCPD) ward of the Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital.


Retrospective analysis of death rate registered on the Medical Oncology ward for 2009 and 2010 and the recorded date of the last CT given. The data are analyzed using the SPSS version 15.0 statistic package. Data were obtained from the Database Minimum Set for oncology admissions.


The death rate on the Medical Oncology ward is 22–24 %. Total number of cases studied is 303. 47 % of patients are aged 60 or younger. 81.8 % (248) received active cancer treatment; of these, 138 (55.6 %) in the last month, and 84 (33.8 %) in the last 2 weeks. Only 66 patients out of those who died on the ward (21 %) were previously sent to the UCPD.


Even when it is known that the majority of cancer patients become resistant to CT at the end of their lives, it is often given to patients of all ages. The request for palliative care is rare and often late.


Advanced cancer Palliative chemotherapy Palliative care Aggressive treatments End of life care