The role of intensive care in managing childhood cancer

K. Meert, M. Lieh-Lai, I. Sarnaik, A. Sarnaik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


To study the value of intensive care in childhood cancer, we evaluated the clinical course and outcome of all such children admitted to our intensive care unit (ICU) (n = 183) during the five-year period from 1984-1988. Excluding those admitted for postoperative observation, there were a total of 63 admissions for complications of malignancy. Of these, admissions for sepsis, pulmonary parenchymal disease, or coma were associated with poor outcome. Thirty-six percent of patients requiring mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure and 27% requiring inotropic support survived longer than six months. Physiologic Stability Index and Therapeutic Intervention Scores were significantly greater in nonsurvivors than survivors. Of those who survived their ICU stay, 50% went home functioning at their premorbid state. The duration of ICU stay was not different in survivors and nonsurvivors, suggesting that intensive care does not excessively prolong the dying process. We conclude that many life-threatening complications of cancer are potentially reversible. The extent of functional recovery of survivors warrants aggressive intensive support in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-382
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology: Cancer Clinical Trials
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991


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