Concurrent Hospice Care With Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy Increasing Among Veterans

Receipt of hospice care concurrently with chemotherapy or radiation therapy has increased among veterans dying from cancer without reduction in receipt of cancer therapy, according to a recent study published online ahead of print in Cancer.1

Researchers led by Vincent Mor, PhD, of the Providence Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Administration Medical Center in Rhode Island conducted a retrospective cohort study of veteran decedents with cancer from 2006 to 2012, analyzing for hospice and cancer treatment through VA and Medicare administrative data.

“Unlike Medicare, the VA health care system does not require veterans with cancer to make the ‘terrible choice’ between receipt of hospice services or disease-modifying chemotherapy/radiation therapy,” the authors noted. They defined concurrent care as days in the last 6 months of life during which veterans received both hospice and chemotherapy/radiation therapy.

They found that receipt of concurrent care increased from 16.2% to 24.5%, with the proportion of veterans receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy remaining stable at about 45% and the proportion of those who received hospice increasing from 55% to 68%.

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