Background: Radiation therapy (RT) can offer timely and effective treatment to oncology patients in the palliative setting. To date, there is sparse evidence investigating temporal relationships regarding the initiation of RT and subsequent hospital stay in the inpatient palliative setting. We aimed to assess whether times between admission, consultation, and initiation of treatment effected the length of hospital stay for patients receiving palliative radiation therapy (PRT).
Methods: This was a retrospective chart review of patients who received a consult for PRT from August 2014 to October 2016. All data was collected from a single community cancer center. Data including demographics, radiation treatment details, and temporal data (e.g., length of stay, time from admission to consult, etc.) were recorded.
Results: Of the 135 patients that received PRT, 60 of them were treated in the inpatient setting. The most common indications for PRT were pain (37%) and non-pain related neurologic symptoms (37%). The most common treatment sites were bone (58%), brain (22%), and lung (17%). There was a significant difference in duration of hospital stay between patients who were seen by palliative radiation oncology within two days versus greater than 2 days (P=0.02); and patients who were treated within 2 days of admission versus greater than 2 days (P=0.03).
Conclusions: Further research is needed to establish causal temporal relationships in palliative radiation oncology. However, this data suggests that early involvement of the radiation oncology team is associated with a reduced length of hospital stay.