Background: Little is known about the outcomes of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) due to medical complications. We designed a study to evaluate their short-term (30-day) survival, predictors of short-term survival and chances of additional chemotherapy.
Methods: We reviewed all patients with advanced (stage III or IV) pancreatic adenocarcinoma admitted to an ICU in a dedicated Brazilian cancer centre from 2009 to 2018 due to medical reasons. We fitted multivariate regression models to identify predictors of 30-day survival and additional systemic chemotherapy.
Results: The study population consisted of 171 patients. Ninety-four patients (55.0%) had Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status 2–4 and 146 (85.4%) had metastatic disease. Most patients (N = 75; 43.9%) were admitted to the ICU during first-line treatment. Median overall survival was 32 days (95% confidence interval (95% CI): 20–49). Survival rate at 30 days was 50.6%. ECOG performance status 2–4 was the only variable associated with lower probability of survival at 30 days in multivariate analysis (odds ratio: 0.28; 95% CI: 0.14–0.54; p < 0.001). Overall, 58 patients (33.9%) received additional chemotherapy and among all patients, 13.5% experienced clinical benefit from this treatment.
Conclusion: Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer admitted to the ICU for medical reasons have a dismal prognosis. Early palliative care and refined tools to establish those who would benefit from an ICU trial could help improve patients’ care.