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Chemotherapy After Diagnosis of Malignant Bowel Obstruction is Associated with Superior Survival for Medicare Patients with Advanced Malignancy.



Although malignant bowel obstruction (MBO) often is a terminal event, systemic therapies are advocated for select patients to extend survival. This study aimed to evaluate factors associated with receipt of chemotherapy after MBO and to determine whether chemotherapy after MBO is associated with survival.


This retrospective cohort study investigated patients 65 years of age or older with metastatic gastrointestinal, gynecologic, or genitourinary cancers who were hospitalized with MBO from 2008 to 2012 using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database. Fine and Gray models were used to identify factors associated with receipt of chemotherapy accounting for the competing risk of death. Cox models identified factors associated with overall survival.


Of the 2983 MBO patients, 39% (n = 1169) were treated with chemotherapy after MBO. No differences in receipt of chemotherapy between the surgical and medical patients were found in the univariable analysis (subdistribution hazard ratio [SHR], 0.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.86-1.07; p = 0.47) or multivariable analysis (SHR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.00-1.26; p = 0.06). Older age, African American race, medical comorbidities, non-colorectal and non-ovarian cancer diagnoses, sepsis, ascites, and intensive care unit stays were inversely associated with receipt of chemotherapy after MBO (p < 0.05). Chemotherapy with surgery was associated with longer survival than surgery (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 2.97; 95% CI, 2.65-3.34; p < 0.01) or medical management without chemotherapy (aHR, 4.56; 95% CI, 4.04-5.14; p < 0.01). Subgroup analyses of biologically diverse cancers (colorectal, pancreatic, and ovarian) showed similar results, with greater survival related to chemotherapy (p < 0.05).


Chemotherapy plays an integral role in maximizing oncologic outcome for select patients with MBO. The data from this study are critical to optimizing multimodality care for these complex patients.

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