Timing, Costs, and Survival Outcome of Specialty Palliative Care in Medicare Beneficiaries With Metastatic Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer

JCO Oncol Pract. 2020 Oct 2:OP2000298. doi: 10.1200/OP.20.00298. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: ASCO recommends early integration of palliative care in treating patients diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Our study sought to examine utilization of timely specialty palliative care (SPC) and its association with survival and cost outcomes in patients diagnosed with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS: The 2001-2015 SEER-Medicare data were used to determine the baseline characteristics and outcomes of 79,253 patients with metastatic NSCLC. The predictors of early SPC use were examined using logistic regression. Mean and adjusted total and SPC-related costs were calculated using generalized linear regression. We used Cox regression model to determine the survival outcomes by SPC service settings. All statistical tests were two sided.

RESULTS: The time from cancer diagnosis to the first SPC use has reduced significantly, from 13.7 weeks in 2001 to 8.3 weeks in 2015 (P < .001). SPC use was associated with lower health care costs compared with those who had no SPC, from -$3,180 in 2011 (P < .001) to -$1,285 in 2015 (P = .059). Outpatient SPC use was associated with improved survival compared with patients who received SPC in other settings (hazard ratio, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.79 to 0.88; P < .001).

CONCLUSION: Patients diagnosed with metastatic NSCLC now have more timely SPC service utilization, which was demonstrated to be a cost-saving treatment. Strategies to improve outpatient palliative care use might be associated with longer survival in patients with metastatic NSCLC.