Intensive care has become important for the treatment of patients with cancer. However, the prognosis of these patients is considered poor a priori and decisions to admit a patient with cancer to the intensive care unit (ICU) are still source of controversy between oncologists and intensivists. The outcome of severely ill cancer patients does not depend solely on the causes that determine the admission to the ICU, but it also depends on cancer- and anticancer-related characteristics, such as performance status and cancer status. The decision-making process of ICU admission and of the appropriateness of advanced life-support requires a thorough evaluation of these characteristics and of the expectancies and wishes of patients and family members. A better understanding of such parameters may be helpful to avoid forgoing intensive care to patients who can potentially benefit from it.
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