Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Collaborative Palliative Care Intervention for Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer

By: Joseph Cupolo
Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020

Recent data presented during the ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Program (Abstract 1008) revealed the effect of a collaborative palliative and oncology care model on communication about end-of-life care for women with metastatic breast cancer. According to Jennifer Temel, MD, of Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues, the collaborative palliative care intervention significantly improved communications and documentation.

A total of 120 women with metastatic breast cancer and clinical indicators of poor prognosis were randomly assigned to receive collaborative palliative and oncology care or usual care. The intervention entailed five structured palliative care visits, including a joint visit with oncology when possible, which focused on symptom management, coping, prognostic awareness, decision-making, and planning for end of life. The primary outcome was documentation of end-of-life care discussions in the electronic health record. Patients also completed questionnaires at baseline and at 6, 12, 18, and 24 weeks.

The rate of end-of-life care discussions documented in the health record was higher among patients who received the intervention than among those who received usual care (67.2% vs. 40.7%), including a higher completion rate of the medical orders form for life-sustaining treatment (39.3% vs. 13.6%). In addition, patients in the intervention group were also more likely to report discussing their end-of-life care wishes with their physician compared with patients who received usual care.

“Further work is needed to examine the effect of this care model on health care utilization at the end of life,” Dr. Temel and colleagues commented.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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