Underutilization of Palliative Care in Metastatic Foregut Cancer Patients Is Associated with Socioeconomic Disparities

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6 Scopus citations


Background: Metastatic foregut cancers (MFC) are associated with debilitating symptoms that negatively impact patients’ quality of life. Palliative care (PC) is effective in mitigating disease-, psychosocial-, and treatment-related effects and may improve survival in select cases. Our study characterizes PC utilization rates in MFC and identifies factors associated with PC receipt. Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of 228,027 National Cancer Database patients diagnosed with MFC between 2004 and 2016. Chi-squared tests were used to analyze differences between groups receiving and not receiving PC. Logistic regression was performed to assess the impact of factors on the likelihood of receiving PC. Results: Overall PC utilization was low (17.8%). A greater proportion of patients not receiving PC were in the lowest median income quartile of < $38,000/year versus those receiving PC (18.1% vs 17.8%, p < 0.0001). Higher education was associated with increased likelihood of receiving PC (OR 1.23 for communities with < 6.3% no high school degree vs ≥ 17.6%, p < 0.0001). Hispanics were significantly less likely to receive PC compared to Whites (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.68–0.76). Patients treated at academic centers were also more likely to receive PC compared to those treated in the community (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.05–1.14). Conclusions: PC is a key component in improving quality of life among MFC patients. Despite slight increases in PC rates over time, PC remains drastically underutilized. Significant racial and socioeconomic disparities in patterns of PC delivery exist. Further studies are needed to understand these disparities in order to identify key targets for interventions aimed at improving equity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1404-1411
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Foregut cancers
  • Palliative care
  • Racial disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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