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Grace L. Smith, Maria A. Lopez-Olivo, Pragati G. Advani, Matthew S. Ning, Yimin Geng, Sharon H. Giordano, and Robert J. Volk

Background: Patients with cancer experience financial toxicity from the costs of treatment, as well as material and psychologic stress related to this burden. A synthesized understanding of predictors and outcomes of the financial burdens associated with cancer care is needed to underpin strategic responses in oncology care. This study systematically reviewed risk factors and outcomes associated with financial burdens related to cancer treatment. Methods: MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed, PsychINFO, and the Cochrane Library were searched from study inception through June 2018, and reference lists were scanned from studies of patient-level predictors and outcomes of financial burdens in US patients with cancer (aged ≥18 years). Two reviewers conducted screening, abstraction, and quality assessment. Variables associated with financial burdens were synthesized. When possible, pooled estimates of associations were calculated using random-effects models. Results: A total of 74 observational studies of financial burdens in 598,751 patients with cancer were identified, among which 49% of patients reported material or psychologic financial burdens (95% CI, 41%–56%). Socioeconomic predictors of worse financial burdens with treatment were lack of health insurance, lower income, unemployment, and younger age at cancer diagnosis. Compared with patients with health insurance, those who were uninsured demonstrated twice the odds of financial burdens (pooled odds ratio [OR], 2.09; 95% CI, 1.33–3.30). Financial burdens were most severe early in cancer treatment, did not differ by disease site, and were associated with worse health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and nearly twice the odds of cancer medication nonadherence (pooled OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.13–2.56). Only a single study demonstrated an association with increased mortality. Studies assessing the comparative effectiveness of interventions to mitigate financial burdens in patients with cancer were lacking. Conclusions: Evidence showed that financial burdens are common, disproportionately impacting younger and socioeconomically disadvantaged patients with cancer, across disease sites, and are associated with worse treatment adherence and HRQoL. Available evidence helped identify vulnerable patients needing oncology provider engagement and response, but evidence is critically needed on the effectiveness of interventions designed to mitigate financial burden and impact.

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Matthew S. Ning, Prajnan Das, David I. Rosenthal, Bouthaina S. Dabaja, Zhongxing Liao, Joe Y. Chang, Daniel R. Gomez, Ann H. Klopp, G. Brandon Gunn, Pamela K. Allen, Paige L. Nitsch, Rachel B. Natter, Tina M. Briere, Joseph M. Herman, Rebecca Wells, Albert C. Koong, and Mary Frances McAleer

Background: Palliative radiotherapy (RT) is effective, but some patients die during treatment or too soon afterward to experience benefit. This study investigates end-of-life RT patterns to inform shared decision-making and facilitate treatment consistent with palliative goals. Materials and Methods: All patients who died ≤6 months after initiating palliative RT at an academic cancer center between 2015 and 2018 were identified. Associations with time-to-death, early mortality (≤30 days), and midtreatment mortality were analyzed. Results: In total, 1,620 patients died ≤6 months from palliative RT initiation, including 574 (34%) deaths at ≤30 days and 222 (14%) midtreatment. Median survival was 43 days from RT start (95% CI, 41–45) and varied by site (P<.001), ranging from 36 (head and neck) to 53 days (dermal/soft tissue). On multivariable analysis, earlier time-to-death was associated with osseous (hazard ratio [HR], 1.33; P<.001) and head and neck (HR, 1.45; P<.001) sites, multiple RT courses ≤6 months (HR, 1.65; P<.001), and multisite treatments (HR, 1.40; P=.008), whereas stereotactic technique (HR, 0.77; P<.001) and more recent treatment year (HR, 0.82; P<.001) were associated with longer survival. No difference in time to death was noted among patients prescribed conventional RT in 1 to 10 versus >10 fractions (median, 40 vs 47 days; P=.272), although the latter entailed longer courses. The 30-day mortality group included 335 (58%) inpatients, who were 27% more likely to die midtreatment (P=.031). On multivariable analysis, midtreatment mortality among these inpatients was associated with thoracic (odds ratio [OR], 2.95; P=.002) and central nervous system (CNS; OR, 2.44; P=.002) indications, >5-fraction courses (OR, 3.27; P<.001), and performance status of 3 to 4 (OR, 1.63; P=.050). Conversely, palliative/supportive care consultation was associated with decreased midtreatment mortality (OR, 0.60; P=.045). Conclusions: Earlier referrals and hypofractionated courses (≤5–10 treatments) should be routinely considered for palliative RT indications, given the short life expectancies of patients at this stage in their disease course. Providers should exercise caution for emergent thoracic and CNS indications among inpatients with poor prognoses due to high midtreatment mortality.