Impact of Performance Status and Comorbidity on Palliative Radiation Treatment Tolerance and End-Of-Life Decision-Making

Haley K. Perlow, Vincent Cassidy, Benjamin Farnia, Deukwoo Kwon, Adam W. Awerbuch, Stephanie Ciraula, Scott Alford, Jacob Griggs, Joseph A. Quintana, Raphael Yechieli, Stuart E. Samuels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Previous studies have indicated a relationship between functional status and comorbidity on overall survival when treating patients with bone and brain metastases. However, the degree to which these findings have been integrated into modern-day practice remains unknown. This study examines the impact of performance measures, including Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) and comorbidity, on palliative radiation therapy treatment tolerance and fractionation schedule. The relationship between a shorter fractionation schedule (SFx) and pending mortality is examined. Methods and materials: This study included patients who were treated with palliative intent to the brain or bone between January 1, 2016 and June 30, 2016. Demographic and medical characteristics collected included KPS score (stratified as good [90-100], fair [70-80], and poor (≤60]), socioeconomic status, comorbidity (binary measure using the Adult Comorbidity Evaluation-27 scale), site of metastatic disease, and treatment facility. Univariable analyses were performed using the Cox proportional hazards regression model to assess the impact of the variables on the prescribed number of fractions (binary measure, ≥10 [long fractionation schedule], and <10 [SFx]), and major treatment interruptions (MTIs; defined as missing ≥3 radiation therapy treatment days or ending treatment prematurely). Results: A total of 145 patients were eligible for study inclusion, including 95 patients who were treated for bony metastatic disease and 50 patients for brain metastases. High comorbidity (P =.029) and both fair (P =.051) and poor (P =.065) functional status were associated with more frequent MTIs. However, high comorbidity and low KPS score were not associated with shorter treatment plans. In addition, patients with an earlier time to death were not more likely to receive an SFx (P =.871). Conclusions: Low KPS and elevated comorbidity scores predict for a poorer prognosis and more frequent MTIs; however, there was no indication that physicians incorporated this information in the fractionation scheduling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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