Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 1879–1884

Use of cancer therapy at the end of life in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma

  • Steven C. Kao
  • Nico van Zandwijk
  • Peter Corte
  • Christopher Clarke
  • Stephen Clarke
  • Janette Vardy
Original Article



Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is considered a treatment-resistant disease. We determined the proportion of patients who received treatment in the last month of life and potential factors associated with use of chemotherapy at the end of life.


Consenting MPM patients compensated by the Dust Diseases Board (DDB) were included. Patient, treatment and outcome details were obtained through the DDB, treating physicians and Medicare Australia. The association between potential factors (age, gender, geographical location, disease stage, histological subtype, palliative care referral, length of first line chemotherapy and lines of treatment) and chemotherapy use in the last month of life was determined.


A total of 147 MPM patients were included in the analysis: 78 received chemotherapy, 50 had radiotherapy and 116 had surgery (77 received more than one treatment modality whilst 56 received one treatment modality). Twenty-one patients received treatment in their last month of life: nine received chemotherapy; six, radiotherapy and six had surgery. Those who were treated with second or subsequent lines of chemotherapy were more at risk of receiving chemotherapy until the end of life (six of 19 patients, i.e., 32 %) compared to those who were only treated with first-line therapy (three of 59 patients, i.e., 5 %; p < 0.01). Patients who received chemotherapy at the end of life had shorter survival compared to those who did not receive chemotherapy at the end of life (5.3 vs. 12.5 months, respectively; p = 0.01).


Chemotherapy utilisation in the last month of life is not uncommon in this series of MPM patients. Patients who failed previous chemotherapy were more likely to receive chemotherapy near the end of life. More careful consideration of when to cease chemotherapy needs to be made as patients who received chemotherapy at the end of life had poorer survival outcome.


Chemotherapy End of life Malignant pleural mesothelioma Radiotherapy Surgery Treatment utilisation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven C. Kao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nico van Zandwijk
    • 1
    • 3
  • Peter Corte
    • 4
  • Christopher Clarke
    • 1
  • Stephen Clarke
    • 3
    • 5
  • Janette Vardy
    • 2
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Asbestos Diseases Research InstituteRhodesAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Medical Oncology, Sydney Cancer CentreSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Medicine, University of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Respiratory Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred HospitalCamperdownAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore HospitalSt. LeonardsAustralia
  6. 6.Department of Medical Oncology, Concord Repatriation General HospitalConcordAustralia

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