Over the last 15 years, the management of critically ill cancer patients requiring intensive care unit admission has substantially changed. High mortality rates (75-85%) were reported 10-20 years ago in cancer patients requiring life sustaining treatments. Because of these high mortality rates, the high costs, and the moral burden for patients and their families, ICU admission of cancer patients became controversial, or even clearly discouraged by some. As a result, the reluctance of intensivists regarding cancer patients has led to frequent refusal admission in the ICU. However, prognosis of critically ill cancer patients has been improved over the past 10 years leading to an urgent need to reappraise this reluctance. In this review, the authors sought to highlight that critical care management, including mechanical ventilation and other life sustaining therapies, may benefit to cancer patients. In addition, criteria for ICU admission are discussed, with a particular emphasis to potential benefits of early ICU-admission.
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