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

reported in the standard care group at 12 weeks, although the rates of new antidepressant prescriptions among both groups was similar. While more than half the palliative care participants had documented resuscitation preferences, essential to ensuring that patients' goals and end-of-life wishes are respected, fewer than 30 percent of standard care participants had documented preferences.

More than half the standard care participants received what the study protocol defined as aggressive end-of-life care chemotherapy within 14 days of death, a time when it is usually considered futile, and either no or late referral to hospice care compared with only a third of the palliative care group. Despite the lack of such aggressive end-of-life care, patients in the palliative care group lived an average of 11.6 months, while survival for standard care patients was less than 9 months.

Temel says, "Traditionally, cancer care has focused on treating the disease itself, but now we realize we must also focus on managing patient's symptoms and distress related to their diagnosis. We hypothesize that the increased survival was due to improved mood and quality of life, to early and more comprehensive management of symptoms and complications, and possibly to more appropriate end-of-life care. Similar studies in patients with other types of cancers and in other care settings will help us better understand the impact palliative care can have on the well-being and health of all patients with cancer." Temel is an assistant professor of Medicine, and Jackson an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.


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Contact: Katie Marquedant
kmarquedant@partners.org
617-726-0337
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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