Cancer patients are at a higher risk of hospital readmissions than the general population. A recent study conducted by a team at the Boston University School of Medicine (Boston, MA) identified avoidable oncologic readmissions and their causes. The researchers conducted a retrospective chart review over a six-month period, during which 203 patients were discharged. While 68.7% of readmissions could not have been avoided, the authors found that 31.3% were potentially avoidable. Most of those potentially avoidable readmissions were due to ascitic or pleural fluid reaccumulation. Based on those findings, the researchers offer solutions such as performing supervised procedures in the outpatient setting. Addressing the issues could decrease readmissions in an oncology service. The study was published in JCO oncology practice.
In the unprecedented time of COVID-19, there is a dire need to understand the impact of delaying cancer treatment. A team from Canada and the United-Kingdom undertook a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of studies published from January 2000 to April 2020 to quantify the impact of delays in surgical interventions, systemic treatment (such as chemotherapy), or radiotherapy for seven types of cancer. These seven cancers represent “44% of all incident cancers globally”.
From analyzing studies included in the review, the authors concluded that every four-week delay in cancer treatment was associated with increased mortality. Delaying more than four weeks was associated with an even higher increase in the risk of death. For instance, delaying breast cancer surgery for eight weeks would increase the risk of death by 17%. This risk would be 26% with a twelve-week delay.
The study was published in November 2020 in the BMJ. The findings of this Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis will be instrumental in creating policies on cancer management priorities during a pandemic.
Hanna, T. P., King, W. D., Thibodeau, S., Jalink, M., Paulin, G. A., Harvey-Jones, E., O’Sullivan, D. E., Booth, C. M., Sullivan, R., & Aggarwal, A. (2020). Mortality due to cancer treatment delay: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 371, m4087. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4087