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Intensity of end-of-life care for gynecologic cancer patients by primary oncologist specialty.

Hicks-Courant K, Kanter GP, Schapira MM, Brensinger CM, Liu Q, Ko EM. Intensity of end-of-life care for gynecologic cancer patients by primary oncologist specialty. International journal of gynecological cancer : official journal of the International Gynecological Cancer Society. 2022 Jun 6; 32(6):695-703.

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OBJECTIVE: The association of primary oncologist specialty, medical oncology versus gynecologic oncology, on intensity of care at the end of life in elderly patients with gynecologic cancer is unclear. METHODS: This retrospective cohort study used Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-Medicare (SEER-M) data. Subjects were fee-for-service Medicare enrollees aged 65 years and older who died of a gynecologic cancer between January 2006 and December 2015. The primary outcome was a composite score for high-intensity care received in the last month of life. Secondary outcomes included invasive procedures and Medicare spending in the last month of life. Simple and multivariable linear and logistic regression analyses evaluated differences in outcomes by primary oncologist specialty. Linear regressions were repeated after creating a more similar control group through nearest-neighbor propensity score matching. RESULTS: Of 12?189 patients, 7705 (63%) had a medical primary oncologist in the last year of life. In adjusted analyses, patients with a gynecologic versus medical primary oncologist received lower rates of high-intensity end-of-life care (53.9% vs 56.6%; p = 0.018). Results were similar for the propensity score-matched cohorts. However, having a gynecologic versus medical primary oncologist was associated with higher rates of invasive procedures in the last month of life (43% vs 41%; p = 0.014) and higher Medicare spending ($83?859 vs $74 849; p = 0.004). CONCLUSIONS: Both specialties engage in overall high levels of intense end-of-life care, with differences by specialty in aspects of aggressive care and spending at the end of life. Physician-level training could be a target for educational or quality improvement initiatives to improve end-of-life cancer care delivery.

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