Improving a regional chemotherapy service by learning from deaths occurring within 30 days of treatment with systemic anti-cancer therapy.

Caroline Forde, Paula Scullin, James McAleer, Victoria Coyle

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: Outwith clinical trials, patient outcomes specifically related to SACT (systemic anti-cancer therapy) are not well reported despite a significant proportion of patients receiving active treatment at the end of life. The NCEPOD reviewing deaths within 30 days of SACT found SACT caused or hastened death in 27% of cases.

Method: Across the Northern Ireland cancer network, 95 patients who died within 30 days of SACT for solid tumours were discussed at the Morbidity and Mortality monthly meeting during 2013. Using a structured template, each case was independently reviewed, with particular focus on whether SACT caused or hastened death.

Results: Lung, GI and breast cancers were the most common sites. Performance status was recorded in 92% at time of final SACT cycle (ECOG PS 0-2 89%).

In 57% the cause of death was progressive disease. Other causes included thromboembolism (13%) and infection (5% neutropenic sepsis, 6% non-neutropenic sepsis). In 26% with death from progressive disease, the patient was first cycle of first line treatment for metastatic disease. In the majority discussion regarding treatment aims and risks was documented. Only one patient was receiving SACT with curative intent, who died from appropriately managed neutropenic sepsis.

A definitive decision regarding SACT's role in death was made in 60%: in 49% SACT was deemed non-contributory and in 11% SACT was deemed the cause of death. In 40% SACT did not play a major role, but a definitive negative association could not be made.

Conclusion: Development of a robust review process of 30-day mortality after SACT established a benchmark for SACT delivery for future comparisons and identified areas for SACT service organisation improvement. Moreover it encourages individual practice reflection and highlights the importance of balancing patients' needs and concerns with realistic outcomes and risks, particularly in heavily pre-treated patients or those of poor performance status.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 05 Nov 2014
EventNCRI Annual Meeting 2014 - Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 02 Nov 201405 Nov 2014


ConferenceNCRI Annual Meeting 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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