There have been widespread efforts to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients. As more patients choose to spend their final days and weeks in hospice care rather than a hospital, the hope is the use of intensive and costly hospital services would decline. A new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers shows for one group of terminally ill cancer patients, that is not what is happening. The study, which tracked nearly 7,000 older patients with ovarian cancer, found that between 1997 and 2007, patients were more likely to enter a hospice and less likely to die in a hospital.

However their use of hospital-based services actually increased. These seemingly paradoxical findings, published in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggest that many patients received aggressive treatments while in the hospital, and resorted to hospice care as an “add-on” when those treatments fail, the authors write.

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