Palliative systemic therapy can prolong life and reduce tumor-related symptoms for patients with advanced esophagogastric cancer. However, side effects of treatment could negatively affect health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Our aim was to review the literature and conduct a meta-analysis to examine the effect of palliative systemic therapy on HRQoL.
EMBASE, Medline, and Central were searched for phase II/III randomized controlled trials until April 2018 investigating palliative systemic therapy and HRQoL. Meta-analysis was performed on baseline and follow-up summary values of global health status (GHS) and other European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer scales. A clinically relevant change and difference of 10 points (scale 0–100) was set to assess the course of HRQoL over time within treatment arms as well as between arms.
We included 43 randomized controlled trials (N = 13 727 patients). In the first-line and beyond first-line treatment setting, pooled baseline GHS mean estimates were 54.6 (95% confidence interval = 51.9 to 57.3) and 57.9 (95% confidence interval = 55.7 to 60.1), respectively. Thirty-nine (81.3%) treatment arms showed a stable GHS over the course of time. Anthracycline-based triplets, fluoropyrimidine-based doublets without cisplatin, and the addition of trastuzumab to chemotherapy were found to have favorable HRQoL outcomes. HRQoL benefit was observed for taxane monotherapy and several targeted agents over best supportive care beyond first line.
Patients reported impaired GHS at baseline and generally remained stable over time. Anthracycline-based triplets and fluoropyrimidine-based doublets without cisplatin may be preferable first-line treatment options regarding HRQoL for HER2-negative disease. Taxanes and targeted agents could provide HRQoL benefit beyond first line compared with best supportive care.