Home and inpatient hospice care of terminal head and neck cancer patients

Yoav P. Talmi, Michaela Bercovici, Alexander Waller, Zeev Horowitz, Abraham Adunski, Jona Kronenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective is to evaluate and compare data on a cohort of terminal head and neck cancer (HNC) patients from both home and hospital-based hospice programs and to define the particular problems and needs of those patients. The setting was a tertiary academic referral centre in Tel Hashomer, Israel. We carried out a retrospective survey of patient charts based on hospice databases and death certificates of the hospital tumor registry. Charts of 102 HNC patients admitted to the hospice between 1988 and 1994 and 24 charts of HNC patients cared for by the home hospice program between 1990 and 1994 were studied. Pain, airway problems, and dysphagia were the common problems reported. A comparison of the two programs showed home hospice patients to be younger and with lower pain levels, less weight loss, and less oral candidiasis. There were fewer oral cavity tumor patients in the home hospice group. The incidence of distant metastases was in the 50% range in both groups. Judging by chart entries relating to pain, airway care, and food intake, treatment protocols were effective in both programs in the alleviation of pain and other symptoms. Both programs appeared to provide adequate care for terminal HNC patients. The main differences in care between the two groups stemmed from the decisions of referring physicians and not from a predetermined level of care. The incidence of distant metastases was higher than that reported in earlier clinical series.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Palliative Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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