Study reveals no survival benefit from systemic therapy in very advanced solid tumors

May 17, 2024 9:00 am

The following article is provided by The Clearity Foundation to support women with ovarian cancer and their families. Learn more about The Clearity Foundation and the services we provide directly to women as they make treatment decisions and navigate emotional impacts of their diagnosis.


Clearity’s Perspective: Clearity knows that making decisions about continuing treatment when facing advanced ovarian cancer is complicated. Given the difficulty of these decisions, this article suggests having goals-of-care conversations with your medical providers when deciding whether or not to continue treatment when diagnosed with very advanced cancer. Goals-of-care conversations may help you and your doctors make treatment decisions that align with your values, goals, and priorities related to quality of life.

by University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Patients with very advanced solid tumors saw no significant improvement in overall survival after receiving systemic therapy, according to a study published today in JAMA Oncology by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Yale Cancer Center.

The findings provide further evidence to help oncologists counsel patients that additional cancer-directed therapy is not likely to benefit them, allowing them to focus instead on palliative and supportive care options that have been demonstrated to improve quality of life and survival.

Our study highlights the importance of open and honest communication about prognosis between providers and patients. Our findings may help oncologists reconsider treatment and instead provide patients with transparent information on supportive care options so they are able to make informed decisions.”

Kerin Adelson, M.D., senior author, chief quality and value officer at MD Anderson

Adelson and colleagues analyzed de-identified data from more than 78,000 adult patients treated at 144 community oncology practices and academic/research centers. Patients included in the study were diagnosed between 2015 and 2019 with metastatic or advanced disease in one of the six common cancers: breast, colorectal, non-small cell lung, pancreatic, renal cell carcinoma, and urothelial cancers.

Researchers stratified oncology practices by how frequently providers gave systemic therapy for very advanced cancers and then studied overall survival of patients with six common solid tumor types treated in these practices. They found no difference in patient survival among practices that gave more systemic therapy for very advanced cancer compared with those who gave less.

As part of its institutional Strategy, MD Anderson is working to ensure goal-concordant care for its patients. This multidisciplinary approach integrates a patient’s individual values and goals into their care plans. MD Anderson is developing a number of strategies to encourage and streamline early conversations about goals of care, and the institution is identifying ways to restructure and realign resources related to palliative and end-of-life care.

Adelson began this research while at Yale Cancer Center. This study was supported by Flatiron Health.

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