Radiation therapy at end of life in children

Joseph Panoff, R. Victor Simoneaux, Nikesh Shah, Michael Scott, Jeffrey C. Buchsbaum, Peter A S Johnstone, Kevin P. McMullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: Few data exist on evaluating utilization patterns of radiotherapy (RT) at the end of life (EOL) in children. Metastatic disease in pediatric patients is not pathognomonic for palliative treatment intent; further complicating the issue are complexities surrounding the very select population of children receiving proton therapy (PrT). We compared data for RT and PrT in terms of death rate within 30 days. Methods: We performed chart reviews for patients receiving radiation therapy at age ≤21 years treated at Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center (IUHPTC) between June 2008 and June 2013 and University of Miami Radiation Oncology Department (UM) between June 2000 and June 2013. Included were patients not completing prescribed courses of RT, and those dying within 30 days of therapy. Comparison was made of differences between practice data for PrT and conventional RT. Results: At IUHPTC, 2 children of 272 did not complete their courses and died within 30 days (0.7%). At UM, data are available for 425 children; 9 did not complete their courses and 7 died within 30 days (1.6%). Neither the number of patients who did not complete treatment nor the 30-day death rates (P=.21) for PrT and RT were significantly different. Conclusions: Delivery of RT for children at EOL is complex. Frequency of RT at EOL in children occurs in is <2% of cases, and is not significantly less frequent in the proton milieu. This appears to be about an order of magnitude less than in adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-169
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Nursing(all)


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