While more than 60 percent of patients with the brain tumors called malignant gliomas enroll in hospice services, almost a quarter of them do so within a week of death, probably too late for patients and family members to benefit from hospice care. A study by research team from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center also finds that certain groups are more likely than others to receive a week or less of hospice services.
“We know from prior research that patients with terminal illnesses, including incurable cancers, derive numerous benefits from hospice services,” says Justin Jordan, MD, MPH, clinical director of the Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology in the MGH Cancer Center, corresponding author of the report published in the journal Neuro-Oncology. “The magnitude of these benefits is notably reduced with late hospice referral. Even though timely hospice enrollment is an important measure of quality oncology care, we found that 37 percent of malignant glioma patients received no hospice at all prior to death.”