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Emergency Presentations Predict Worse Outcomes Among Patients with Pancreatic Cancer

Dig Dis Sci. 2023 Dec 16. doi: 10.1007/s10620-023-08207-6. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Emergency presentation (EP) of cancer, a new cancer diagnosis made following an emergency department (ED) visit, is associated with worse patient outcomes and greater organizational stress on healthcare systems. Pancreatic cancer has the highest rate of EPs among European studies but remains understudied in the U.S.

AIMS: To evaluate the association between pancreatic cancer EPs and cancer stage, treatment, and survival.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study among patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma diagnosed from 2007 to 2019 at a tertiary-care Veterans Affairs medical center. Electronic health records were reviewed to identify EP cases, defined as a new pancreatic cancer diagnosis made within 30 days of an ED visit where cancer was suspected. We used multivariate logistic regression models and Cox proportional hazards models to examine the associations between EPs and cancer stage, treatment, and survival.

RESULTS: Of 243 pancreatic cancer patients, 66.7% had EPs. There was no difference in stage by EP status. However, patients diagnosed through EPs were 72% less likely to receive cancer treatment compared to non-emergency presenters (adjusted OR 0.28; 95% CI 0.13-0.57). Patients with EPs also had a 73% higher mortality risk (adjusted HR 1.73; 95% CI 1.29-2.34). This difference in mortality remained statistically significant after adjusting for cancer stage and receipt of cancer treatment (adjusted HR 1.47; 95% CI 1.09-1.99).

CONCLUSIONS: Pancreatic cancer EPs are common and independently associated with lower treatment rates and survival. Enhanced understanding of process breakdowns that lead to EPs can help identify care gaps and inform future quality improvement efforts.

PMID:38103105 | DOI:10.1007/s10620-023-08207-6

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