Comparing characteristics and outcomes of cancer to non-cancer patients admitted to general internal medicine (GIM). Journal Articles uri icon

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  • 21 Background: Cancer prevalence is rising and there is a corresponding increase in hospitalizations across the cancer continuum. However, little is known about the patterns of care and outcomes of cancer inpatients as administrative data may not capture in-hospital details including investigations and medications required for characterization. Understanding how cancer inpatients are managed and their outcomes can help to optimize care delivery. Methods: We conducted a multicenter study of all patients admitted to GIM at seven hospitals (Toronto, Canada) from 2010 to 2017 where we deterministically linked administrative data with each hospital’s electronic information (pharmacy, orders, notes, laboratory/imaging and results) at the patient level. Multivariable regression models compared characteristics and outcomes between cancer and non-cancer patients for the top 5 non-cancer patient discharge diagnoses. Results: Among 230,040 hospitalizations, 15% had cancer listed as an ICD-10 comorbidity. The most common cancer disease sites were gastrointestinal (20%), lung (13%) and leukemia (11%). The most common discharge diagnoses for cancer patients were disease progression (9%), palliative care (6%), pneumonia (4%), leukemia (4%) and lung cancer (4%), while for non-cancer patients were: heart failure (5%), pneumonia (5%), stroke (5%), COPD (5%) and urinary tract infections (5%). In general, compared to non-cancer patients, cancer patients were younger (70 vs 72), had greater length of stay (LOS; 6.4 vs 4.6 days), in-hospital mortality (16% vs 5%), ICU use (12% vs 11%), 30 day re-admission rate (17% vs 10%) and were more likely to receive CTs (64% vs 52%), MRIs (14% vs 12%) and interventional procedures (22% vs 8%) (p < 0.001, all comparisons). When evaluating the top 5 non-cancer patient discharge diagnoses, results (adjusted for age, gender, Charlson comorbidity score and hospital) were similar wherein cancer patients had a higher in-hospital mortality (aOR = 2.02 p < 0.001), 30 day re-admission rate (aOR = 1.09 p = 0.08) and were more likely to receive CTs (aOR = 1.88 p < 0.001), MRIs (aOR = 1.66 p < 0.001) or interventional procedures (aOR = 1.78 p < 0.001), despite similar mean LOS (5.7 vs 5.1 days p = 0.35). Results were similar across discharge diagnoses. Conclusions: Cancer patients represent a unique population on GIM and have higher resource use, mortality and LOS compared to non-cancer patients, with similar trends even for the same non-cancer diagnoses. Specialized models of care for hospitalized cancer patients may be warranted.


  • Eng, Lawson
  • Verma, Amol A
  • Shin, Saeha
  • Raissi, Afsaneh
  • Berlin, Alejandro
  • Brezden, Christine
  • Chan, Kelvin K
  • Enright, Katherine
  • Bouchard-Fortier, Genevieve
  • Linett, Lauren
  • Powis, Melanie Lynn
  • Samawi, Haider
  • Liu, Geoffrey
  • Krzyzanowska, Monika K
  • Razak, Fahad

publication date

  • October 10, 2020