In a Scottish population, about 5% of patients who were diagnosed with solid cancers experienced critical illness that resulted in intensive care unit (ICU) admission within 2 years.1

In the retrospective observational study, which was published in JAMA Oncology, researchers led by Kathryn Puxty, MBChB, of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary looked at 4 datasets matched with ICU admission data in Scotland.

They identified 118,541 patients at least 16 years of age who were diagnosed with having solid, non-hematological cancers, with a median age of 69 years.

Continue Reading

Among those patients, 6,116 had developed a critical illness and were admitted to an ICU within 2 years. Risk was found to be higher in men and patients aged 60 to 69 years. Cumulative incidence was greatest for small intestinal and colorectal cancers, while risk following breast cancer was low.

Among those who died, 14.1% were in the ICU and 24.6% were during the hospital stay. Mortality was found to be greatest among emergency medical admissions and lowest among elective surgical patients.

RELATED: No Significant Differences in Symptoms, Physical Decline in Hematologic Malignancies, Solid Tumors

While risk of critical illness did not vary by socioeconomic circumstances, mortality was found to be higher among patients from deprived areas.

“The associated high mortality rate may make a significant contribution to overall cancer outcomes,” the authors concluded.


  1. Puxty K, McLoone P, Quasim T, et al; Risk of critical illness among patients with solid cancers: a population-based observational study. JAMA Oncol. [published online ahead of print August 27, 2015]. 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.2855.