Objective: Little data about the management of drugs in terminally ill palliative care cancer patients is available. The present study aimed at describing the evolution of anticancer and non-anticancer treatments (NACTs) in cancer patients in palliative care units. The second objective was to identify factors leading to the medical decision to withdraw or not NACTs. Methods: Data from 1,091 cancer patients hospitalized in palliative care units were prospectively collected in 2010–2011, through a multicenter, observational French cohort. Results: The median overall survival after admittance in palliative care units was 15 days. Specific anticancer treatments were systematically stopped in the first 24 h in palliative care units, but for 4.5% of patients. Regarding NACTs, patients were heavily treated with strong opioids (74%), corticosteroids (51%), and antidepressants (21.8%) until death. Antiulcer agents (63.4%), antibiotics (25.7%), thrombosis prevention (21.8%), antidiabetics (7.6%), and transfusions (4%) were often also continuously prescribed. In multivariate analysis, ECOG PS 4 was an independent predictor of continuous prescription of morphine and an independent predictor of discontinuation of corticosteroids, proton-pump inhibitors, antidiabetics, and preventive anticoagulant therapy. Infection symptoms independently predicted continuous prescription of paracetamol. Paralysis and cancer palpable mass independently predicted corticosteroid withdrawal. Brain metastases independently predicted antiulcer withdrawal. Hemorrhage independently predicted preventive anticoagulant withdrawal. Availability to a venous access independently predicted paracetamol and antiulcer continuous prescriptions. Co-prescriptions independently predicted continuous prescriptions (antibiotics with antiulcer, antifungals with antibiotics) or withdrawal (preventive anticoagulant with antiplatelets and antifungals). Conclusions: NACT prescription remained commonplace in terminally ill palliative cancer patients, although their benefit is questionable.

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