Invasive procedures in the elderly after stage IV cancer diagnosis

Alvin C. Kwok, Yue Yung Hu, Christopher M. Dodgion, Wei Jiang, Gladys V. Ting, Nathan Taback, Stuart R. Lipsitz, Jane C. Weeks, Caprice C. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background Invasive procedures are resource intense and may be associated with substantial morbidity. These harms must be carefully balanced with the benefits gained in life expectancy and quality of life. Prior research has demonstrated an increasing aggressiveness of care in cancer patients at the end-of-life. To better characterize surgical care in this setting, we sought to examine trends in the use of invasive procedures in patients diagnosed with metastatic cancer on presentation.

Materials and methods Using Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results -Medicare data, we identified invasive procedure claims from 1994-2009 for patients diagnosed with incident stage IV breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer patients in 1995-2006. We grouped procedures into surgically relevant categories, using an adaptation of the Clinical Classifications Software, and measured utilization and relative changes over time.

Results Of stage IV patients diagnosed in 2002-2006, 96% underwent a procedure during the course of their cancer care including 63% after the diagnostic period, and 25% in the last month of life. Between 1996 and 2006, minimal change was observed in utilization during the diagnostic period (+1.5%). However, there were significant increases during continuing care (+20.7%) and the last month of life (+21.5%). Procedures consistent with primary tumor resection decreased, whereas those with probable palliative intent and those unrelated to cancer increased.

Conclusions Nearly all patients who present with metastatic cancer undergo invasive procedures. Although overall utilization is increasing, the specific procedure types indicate that it may be appropriate, enhancing the quality of life in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-763
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • End-of-life
  • Procedure utilization
  • Stage IV cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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