Diagnosis matters: the differing clinical trajectories for terminal prostate, lung and haematological cancers Academic Article uri icon


  • There is a belief that end-of-life care issues are similar for all cancer patients, irrespective of their primary cancer diagnosis. This exploratory study into the terminal trajectories of three common cancers challenges this belief.A retrospective, systematic, and mixed qualitative and quantitative medical record review of 30 deceased patients in 2010 was performed between two Victorian networks. The last 90 days of life were examined in three equally distributed cancer groups - prostate, lung and haematological.The trajectories for the three malignancies differed in temporal, symptomatic, supportive and interventional characteristics.Our study suggests diagnosis does indeed matter. The varying symptomatology for the different cancers markedly influenced clinical management, utilisation of palliative care services and the site of care and site of death. Our study suggests potential areas for better collaboration between general practitioners, community and specialist palliative care services. Emerging work supports our findings, but this area warrants further research.


publication date

  • 2015