During the last month of life, non-White patients are more likely to receive aggressive care with little to no focus on palliative or end-of-life (EOL) care for their ovarian cancer, researchers reported in Cancer.

Clinical guidelines recommend implementing palliative care along with aggressive treatment at diagnosis, then shifting to palliative only at EOL. Using data from 7,756 Medicare beneficiaries in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, the researchers looked for trends and racial disparities in late hospice or no hospice use, emergency department visits, intensive care unit admissions, hospitalizations, terminal hospitalizations, chemotherapy, and invasive or life‐extending procedures.

They found that in the management of ovarian cancer, non‐White patients were more likely to receive aggressive EOL care, hospitalizations, and life‐extending procedures, whereas non‐Hispanic Black patients were more likely to have more emergency department visits or life‐extending procedures than non‐Hispanic White patients.

“Although the early integration of palliative care and the reduction of intensive and invasive end-of-life care have been included more and more in guidelines, these recommendations are not making enough of a difference in the type of care people with ovarian cancer receive at the end of their lives, especially for people of color,” the researchers said.

Oncology nurses must reinforce care goals and have palliative care discussions with patients throughout treatment. Get a guide to having those conversations with help from ONS.