Published in Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2014 Nov; 44(11):1082-7
Authors: Miura T et al
Most cancer patients become increasingly anxious toward the end of their life. The objective of this study was to identify predictors of increased opioid dosage in the last week of a terminal cancer patient’s life.
We retrospectively reviewed charts of patients who died in our palliative care unit. We assigned the patients to increased group or decreased group according to changes in oral morphine equivalent dosage in their last 7 days. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify predictors of increased oral morphine equivalent dosage.
We analyzed data of 158 patients (female: 43.7%, median age: 64 years). The median oral morphine equivalent dosages on Days 7 and 1 before death were 50 mg (interquartile range: 24-122) and 61 mg (28-129), respectively. Independent predictors of increased oral morphine equivalent dosage included dyspnea (odds ratio: 11.5, 95% confidence interval: 4.98-28.83, P < 0.01), age <65 years (odds ratio: 2.3, 95% confidence interval: 1.04-5.26, P = 0.04) and oral morphine equivalent dosage <50 mg on Day 7 before death (odds ratio: 3.7, 95% confidence interval: 1.68-8.89, P < 0.01). The median oral morphine equivalent dosages on Days 7 and 1 before death were 48 mg (interquartile range: 20-126) and 75 mg (36-170) in patients with dyspnea, and 50 mg (25-120) and 57 mg (25-124) in patients with pain, respectively.
Dyspnea, relative youth and oral morphine equivalent dosage <50 mg on Day 7 before death were predictive of increased oral morphine equivalent dosage in the last 7 days. Our findings may help oncologists to more accurately inform patients about expected opioid requirements and thus relieve their end-of-life anxiety.