A comparison of end-of-life care patterns between older patients with both cancer and Alzheimer's disease and related dementias versus those with only cancer

Published:August 27, 2022DOI:



      Aggressive end-of-life (EOL) care that is not aligned with the preferences of persons with cancer has negative impacts on their quality of life. Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) could potentially complicate EOL care planning among persons with cancer. Little is known about the aggressive EOL care patterns among Medicare beneficiaries with both cancer and ADRD.

      Materials and methods

      A matched retrospective cohort was created using the 2004 to 2016 Surveillance, Epidemiology, End Results-Medicare (SEER-Medicare) data differentiated by beneficiaries' ADRD status. Beneficiaries with breast, lung, colorectal, or prostate cancer who died between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2016, were included. Six existing domains of aggressive EOL care and one overall indicator were derived. The major predictor was having ADRD comorbidity; other covariates included sex, marital status, census tract poverty indicator, race/ethnicity, metro status, geographic location, Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), survival time, cancer site, and histology stage. Multivariable logistic regression models were deployed to estimate the odds of receiving aggressive EOL care.


      The study sample was 135,380 people after the one-to-one propensity score matching. The prevalence of aggressive EOL care utilization was slightly lower in beneficiaries with both cancer and ADRD when compared to beneficiaries with cancer only (54% vs. 58%, p < 0.0001). Beneficiaries with both cancer and ADRD were less likely to receive aggressive EOL care (AOR: 0.88, 95% CI: 0.86, 0.90) versus beneficiaries with cancer only. From the multivariable logistic regression model, certain beneficiaries' characteristics were associated with higher odds of receiving aggressive EOL care, such as: beneficiaries belonging to a racial/ethnic minority, a shorter survival time, and a higher CCI score.


      The combined presence of ADRD and cancer was associated with lower odds of receiving aggressive EOL care compared to the presence of only cancer; however, the prevalence difference between the cohorts was not huge. Future studies could conduct in-depth evaluations of the ADRD's influence on the EOL care utilization.


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