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Discussions About Goals of Care and Advance Care Planning Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer Approaching the End of Life

Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer receive high rates of medically intensive measures at the end of life. This study aimed to characterize the prevalence and timing of conversations about goals of care and advance care planning among AYAs at the end of life as one potential influence on care received. This was a review of electronic health data and medical records for 1,929 AYAs age 12-39 years who died after receiving care at one of three sites between 2003 and 2019, including documented conversations about goals of care and advance care planning, and care received. A majority of AYAs were female (54%) and White (61%); 12% were Asian, 8% Black, and 27% Hispanic. Most patients had documented discussions about prognosis (86%), goals of care (83%), palliative care (79%), hospice (79%), and preferred location of death (64%). When last documented goals of care were evaluated, 69% of patients wanted care focused on palliation; however, 29% of those with palliative goals spent time in the intensive care unit (ICU) in the last month of life, and 32% had multiple emergency room (ER) visits. When goals-of-care discussions happened earlier, >30 days before death, AYAs were less likely to receive chemotherapy in the last 14 days of life (P = .001), ICU care (P < .001), ER visits (P < .001), and hospitalizations in the last month (P < .001). High rates of medically intensive measures among AYAs near the end of life do not appear to be the result of a lack of discussions about goals of care and advance care planning. Although some interventions may be used to support palliative goals, earlier discussions have potential to reduce late-life intensive measures.

Authors: Mack, Jennifer W;Wiener, Lori;Chao, Chun R;et al.

J Clin Oncol. 2023 Aug 25:JCO2300641.

PubMed abstract

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