Medical Oncology Group of Australia

Recommendations from Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) to improve and develop the profession of medical oncology and the management of cancer nationwide. MOGA is the peak representative body for medical oncologists in Australia. The Association works closely with Government, health organisations, affiliated international associations and societies, industry, consumer advocacy groups and learned colleges throughout Australia to improve and develop the profession of medical oncology and the management of cancer nationwide.

Avoid cytotoxic chemotherapy in patients with advanced cancer who are unlikely to benefit from chemotherapy (ECOG performance status 3 or 4) and continue to focus on symptom relief and palliative care.

Date reviewed: 29 April 2019

For some patients with advanced cancer, chemotherapy is no longer effective. Symptom relief and palliative care should become the primary modes of care. The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status is a valid predictor of poor survival, reduced response, and worsened toxicity from chemotherapy. Patients with advanced solid tumours, with an ECOG performance status of 3 or 4, generally exhibit a poor response to chemotherapy. There are well known exceptions to this. These are generally patients with untreated highly chemo-sensitive malignancies, and who have recently declined from a good performance status.

Supporting evidence
  • Baldotto CS, Cronemberger EH, de Biasi P, et al. Palliative care in poor-performance status small cell lung cancer patients: is there a mandatory role for chemotherapy? Support Care Cancer. 2012;20(11):2721–7.
  • Gridelli C, Ardizzoni A, Le Chevalier T, et al. Treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer patients with ECOG performance status 2: results of a European Experts Panel. Ann Oncol 2004;15(3):419–26.
  • Kenmotsu H, Goto K, Kubota K, et al. Clinical significance of chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) with ECOG performance status (PS) 3–4. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2008 26:15_suppl, 19123-19123.
  • Prigerson HG, Bao Y, Shah MA3, et al. Chemotherapy Use, Performance Status, and Quality of Life at the End of Life. JAMA Oncol. 2015;1(6):778–84.
  • Temel JS, Greer JA, Muzikansky A, et al. Early palliative care for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. N Engl J Med. 2010; 363:733–42.
How this list was made How this list was made

An Evolve working group of MOGA members was established and compiled an initial list of 79 potentially low-value tests, treatments, and other clinical practices in medical oncology, drawing on the results of a desktop review and clinical experience. Anonymised email feedback on the list was collated and analysed and the initial list was reduced to 64 items. These were divided into seven categories, ranging from ‘Diagnosis and staging’ to ‘Therapy’. An online survey allowed members of the working group to anonymously choose the top six or the top three from each category (depending on the number in the category). From this, a list of the top-28 items was then presented to the MOGA Executive Committee. Following anonymised email feedback, this list was further reduced to 24 items. Each member of the Committee was invited to nominate their top-12 of these. Responses were consolidated and a list of 11 items compiled, which served as the basis of a final online survey, to which the entire MOGA membership was invited to respond. Respondents assigned a score of 1 to 5 for each item based on their level of agreement with each. Scores for each item were averaged and the top-5 list produced.

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