Systemic Anticancer Treatment Near the End of Life: a Narrative Literature Review

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Review article

1 Citation (Scopus)


Systemic anticancer therapy (SACT) includes different treatment modalities that can be effective in treating cancer. However, in the case of disease progression, cancers might become incurable and SACT might reach its limits. In the case of incurable cancers, SACT is often given in a palliative setting, with the goal of improving the patients' quality of life (QOL) and their survival. In contrast, especially for patients who approach end of life (EOL), such treatments might do more harm than good. Patients receiving EOL anticancer treatments often experience belated palliative care referrals. The use of systemic chemotherapy in patients with advanced cancer and poor prognosis approaching the EOL has been associated with significant toxicity and worse QOL compared to best supportive care. Therefore, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has discouraged this practice, and it is considered a metric of low-value care by Choosing Wisely (Schnipper et al. in J Clin Oncol 4;30(14):1715-24). Recommendations of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) suggest that especially chemotherapy and immunotherapy should be avoided in the last few weeks of the patients' lives. In this narrative review, we screened the current literature for the impact of SACT and factors predicting the use of SACT near the EOL with discussion on this topic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1328-1350
Number of pages23
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Oncology
Issue number10
Early online date27 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Systemic Anticancer Treatment Near the End of Life: a Narrative Literature Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this