Impact of Early Palliative Care on End of life in patients with Advanced Biliary Tract Cancer

Author(s): Margaux Miralles, Marie Muller, Christophe Borg, Sylvain Manfredi, Anne Minello, Olivier Bouché, Marlène Tambou, Didier Mutter, Pascale Chiappa, Jean-Emmanuel Kurtz, Amandine Luc, Cédric Baumann, and Anthony Lopez.

Background: Most of patient with biliary tract cancer (BTC) have not access to surgery because of advanced/metastatic disease at diagnosis (aBTC). They receive palliative chemotherapy and/or palliative care (PC). We studied if early palliative care referral might influence overall survival (OS) and the aggressiveness of end-of-life care.

Participants and Design: We conducted a retrospective multicentric cohort study in patients with non-curative BTC, diagnosed between 2013 and 2019 in 6 hospitals of Eastern France. PC was defined a specialist-delivered palliative care encounter.

Results: 200 patients with aBTC were included. 87 (44%) never received PC, 30 (15%) had very early PC (< 3 months after aBTC diagnosis), 20 (10%) had an early PC (3-6 months), and 63 (32%) had late PC (>6 months). The median time between referral and death was 0.9 to 1.3 months. OS were 12.4 months (no PC), 3.0 months (PC<3 m), 6.4 months (PC 3-6 m), 16 months (PC>6 m). There was no evidence for survival improvement with early PC. PC tended to reduce chemotherapy near death (37% without PC, 30% with PC<3m, 11% with PC 3-6m, 10% with PC>6m), visits in emergency department (ED) during final month (respectively: 36%, 20 %, 15%, and 7%), intensive care unit hospitalizations (ICU) near death (13%, 0%, 0%, 2%). Place of death seemed to be positively impacted by PC (conventional acute unit, respectively: 73%, 21%, 21%, 25% and ICU or ED: 8%, 0%, 5%, 2%).

Conclusion: Referral to PC remains too late in the support of patients with aBTC. Our practice should evolve: all patients with aBTC should be referred to early PC in palliative care unit after diagnosis to improve the management of end-of-life, symptoms, and family needs. Trial registration number: 2019PI274, 05/28/2020.

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