Tapping Palliative Care’s Survival Benefit


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A trial reported in 2010 found that adding palliative care to standard care at the time of lung cancer diagnosis prolonged overall survival by an average of about 2.6 months,1 Arif H. Kamal, MD, told attendees at the Best of ASCO meeting in Seattle. Dr. Kamal is Director of Quality and Outcomes at the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, North Carolina.

In the reported study, the amount of chemotherapy given did not differ between groups, but the timing did. “If patients got early palliative care, they got just as much, but they got less of it in the last 30 days of life. And that is thought to be why there may be a survival benefit,” he elaborated. Studies comparing palliative care alone with active therapy in lung cancer do show better survival with the latter, he acknowledged. “The models that are being studied are in addition to [standard care], and that’s a huge difference that needs to be understood: it’s in addition to, not instead of,” Dr. Kamal stressed. ■

Reference

1. Temel JS, Greer JA, Muzikansky A, et al: Early palliative care for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. N Engl J Med 363:733-742, 2010.

 


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