Comparison of clinical and economic outcomes between high-intensity care and hospice care for the end-of-life melanoma patients

Jinhai Huo, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The intensity of care for patients at the end-of-life is increasing in recent years. Publications have focused on intensity of care for many cancers, but none on melanoma patients. Substantial gaps exist in knowledge about intensive care and its alternative, hospice care, among the advanced melanoma patients at the end of life. End-of-life care may be used in quite different patterns and induce both intended and unintended clinical and economic consequences. We used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked databases to identify patients aged 65 years or older with metastatic melanoma who died between 2000 and 2007. We evaluated trends and associations between sociodemographic and health services characteristics and the use of hospice care, chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy and costs. Survival, end-of-life costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratio were evaluated using propensity score methods. Costs were analyzed from the perspective of Medicare in 2009 dollars. In the first journal Article we found increasing use of surgery for patients with metastatic melanoma from 13% in 2000 to 30% in 2007 (P=0.03 for trend), no significant fluctuation in use of chemotherapy (P=0.43) or radiation therapy (P=0.46). Older patients were less likely to receive radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The use of hospice care increased from 61% in 2000 to 79% in 2007 (P =0.07 for trend). Enrollment in short-term (1-3 days) hospice care use increased, while long-term hospice care (≥ 4 days) remained stable. Patients living in the SEER Northeast and South regions were less likely to undergo surgery. Patients enrolled in long-term hospice care used significantly less chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. In the second journal article, of 611 patients identified for this study, 358 (59%) received no hospice care after their diagnosis, 168 (27%) received 1 to 3 days of hospice care, and 85 (14%) received 4 or more days of hospice care. The median survival time was 181 days for patients with no hospice care, 196 days for patients enrolled in hospice for 1 to 3 days, and 300 days for patients enrolled for 4 or more days (log-rank test, P < 0.001). The estimated hazard ratios (HR) between 4 or more days hospice use and survival were similar within the original cohort Cox proportional hazard model (HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.49-0.78, P < 0.0001) and the propensity score-matched model (HR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.47-0.78, P = 0.0001). Patients with ≥ 4 days of hospice care incurred lower end-of-life costs than the other two groups ($14,298 versus $19,380 for the 1- to 3-days hospice care, and $24,351 for patients with no hospice care; p < 0.0001). In conclusion, Surgery and hospice care use increased over the years of this study while the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy remained consistent for patients diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. Patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma who enrolled in ≥ 4 days of hospice care experienced longer survival than those who had 1-3 days of hospice or no hospice care, and this longer overall survival was accompanied by lower end-of-life costs.

Subject Area

Nursing|Public health

Recommended Citation

Huo, Jinhai, "Comparison of clinical and economic outcomes between high-intensity care and hospice care for the end-of-life melanoma patients" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3565156.