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Lung cancer patients receiving palliative care had improved quality of life, extended survival
Date:8/18/2010

care late in the course of their illness, often when they are hospitalized and symptoms have become debilitating. A 2007 study by members of the MGH team found it feasible to integrate palliative care into the treatment of patients newly diagnosed with metastatic NSCLC, the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. The current study was designed to evaluate the impact of early, continuing palliative care on patients' lives.

Study participants all of whom had recently been diagnosed with metastatic NSCLC were randomly assigned to receive either standard oncology care or early palliative care integrated with standard care. Those in the latter group met with members of the palliative care team within three weeks of study enrollment and then at least monthly throughout the course of their illness. Additional sessions could be scheduled as needed. The visits included assessing and treating symptoms, establishing goals of care, providing psychosocial support and coordinating care with other services. Participants receiving standard care who wished to access palliative services were free to do so at any point during the study.

Members of both groups completed standard questionnaires assessing mood and quality of life when they enrolled in the study and 12 weeks later. The research team collected data on the services and treatments participants received including hospital admission, hospice services, chemotherapy and other medications as well as whether patients' resuscitation preferences were documented in the medical record. A total of 151 patients enrolled 77 assigned to the palliative care group, and 74 to standard care during the three-year study period.

Responses to the quality-of-life questionnaire showed significant improvement from enrollment to 12-week assessment in the palliative care group but worsening quality of life in the standard care group. Depression symptoms in the palliative care group were about half those
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Contact: Katie Marquedant
kmarquedant@partners.org
617-726-0337
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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