Age Disparities in End of Life Symptom Management Among Patients with Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

Ori Tal*, Erez Ben Shem, Ofri Peled, Osnat Elyashiv, Tally Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the symptoms of women with epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) during their last admission before death and analyze invasive palliative management administered in relation to symptom control and survival. Materials & Methods: A retrospective review of Israeli patients with EOC, primary peritoneal cancer (PPC) and tubal cancer, admitted to our department prior to death between 2008–2018. Basic palliative treatment was defined as administration of IV fluids, analgesics, oxygen, antiemetics, antibiotics and/or blood transfusions. Procedures regarded as invasive included: peritoneal or pleural fluid drainage; placement of an indwelling catheter, administration of total parenteral nutrition (TPN), chemotherapy and ventilation. Results: 82 patients were included. Most suffered from weakness and fatigue, gastrointestinal complaints, pain and shortness of breath. 34 patients (41.5%) required only basic palliative treatment to alleviate their symptoms; however, in 48 patients (58.5%) invasive interventions were needed. Patients treated with invasive procedures were younger at death by almost 9 years (mean age of 65.73 ± 9.5 vs. 74.78 ± 9.8; p = 0.001). There were significantly more women with platinum sensitive disease in the invasive interventions group compared to the basic palliative care (60.42% vs. 32.35%; p = 0.012). No survival difference was found between the groups from diagnosis to death, relapse to death, last chemotherapy to death and last admission to death. Conclusions: EOC patients suffer from high disease burden and multiple symptoms before death. We found that physicians tend to use more invasive care in dying younger patients. However, this aggressive treatment does not prolong survival. Futile treatments influencing quality of life should be avoided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-191
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Palliative Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • age factors
  • aggressive
  • death
  • epithelial ovarian cancer
  • invasive
  • palliative


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