Venovenous extracorporeal life support (VV-ECLS) is a lifesaving but invasive treatment for acute respiratory failure (ARF) that is not improved with conventional therapy. However, using VV-ECLS to treat ARF in adult cancer patients is controversial. This retrospective study included 14 cancer patients (median age: 58 years [interquartile range: 51-66]; solid malignancies in 13 patients and hematological malignancy in 1 patient) who received VV-ECLS for ARF that developed within 3 months after anticancer therapies. VV-ECLS would be considered in selected patients with a P aO2/Fi O2 ratio ≤70mmHg under advanced mechanical ventilation. Before ECLS, the medians of intubation day, P aO2/Fi O2 ratio, and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score were 8 (2-12), 62mmHg (53-76), and 10 (9-14), respectively. The case numbers of bacteremia, thrombocytopenia (platelet count aO2/Fi O2 ratio but not in SOFA score. Six patients experienced major hemorrhages during ECLS. The median ECLS day, ECLS weaning rate, and hospital survival were 11 (7-16), 50% (n=7), and 29% (n=4). The development of dialysis-dependent nephropathy predicted death on ECLS (odds ratio: 36; 95% confidence interval: 1.8-718.7; P=0.01). With a median follow-up of 11 (6-43) months, half of the survivors died of cancer recurrence and the others were in partial remission. The most prominent benefit of VV-ECLS is to improve the arterial oxygenation and rest the lungs. This may increase the chance of recovery from ARF in selected cancer patients.
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