Research Article

Treatment of the terminal stages of breast cancer.

BMJ 1989; 298 doi: (Published 07 January 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;298:13
  1. K. Holli,
  2. M. Hakama
  1. Department of Public Health, University of Tampere, Finland.


    To assess the intensity of and changes in diagnostic investigations and treatment in the terminal stages of breast cancer 555 patients in the area of Tampere University Central Hospital in whom breast cancer had been diagnosed from 1977 to 1980 were followed up for five years. The case notes for the last visit of 519 patients were analysed. The amount of diagnostic activity was similar for those who died and for the survivors. A higher proportion of women who died than of women who survived received treatment at the last follow up visit, and 2.6 times as many of those dying within one week of the last visit were given chemotherapy as were survivors with recurrent disease. Resources devoted to diagnostic investigations and treatment of cancer in terminally ill patients could be better used for care of the patients. This would be more likely to improve the patients' quality of life and conserve resources.