Tag Archives: palliative care

Cancer-Related Fatigue: Real, Treatable, and Under-Treated

Life-altering fatigue will affect 80% of people getting chemotherapy or radiation therapy, plus most people who have metastatic cancer, and even many survivors long after treatment is done. Yet fatigue in cancer patients has been under-reported, under-diagnosed, and under-treated, according to an expert panel convened by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) a decade ago to recommend cancer-related fatigue treatment guidelines. Some good news: A recent Dutch study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that advanced cancer patients can get significant relief from serious fatigue, when their fatigue and other symptoms are regularly monitored and treated according to guidelines. Some less good news: A small U.S. study published

Earlier End-of-Life Talk Associated with Less Aggressive Late Care

Early discussions about desired end-of-life care, among patients with incurable cancer, were associated with less aggressive treatment in the last month of life, according to a study published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Nov. 13 online ahead of print). The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) highlighted this study for providing “the first-of-its-kind scientific evidence that timing of end-of-life discussions affects decisions” and actual treatment given at the end of a patient’s life. The study found that nearly 40% of end-of-life discussions with cancer patients happened in the last 30 days of life. Among patients who had such discussions earlier, they were much more likely to receive

“Isn’t Hospice End-of-Life Care?”

Fight Colorectal Cancer’s September 2012 patient webinar focused on issues that run rampant with misunderstanding and fear: palliative and hospice care. Dr. Jim Meadows, Director of Palliative and Hospice Care at Tennessee Oncology, led the webinar. He spoke at length about palliative care, but not surprisingly, the majority of questions toward the end of the webinar focused on hospice care. One listener had a good question that elicited a great response from Dr. Meadows. We wanted to share it with you. Q: Isn’t hospice ‘end of life’ care? Why are you saying it prolongs life when I have heard of many people having to watch for days and even weeks

Doctors Urged to Talk Discuss Palliative Care

Soon after diagnosing a patient with advanced cancer, a doctor should begin discussing options for palliative care—the management of symptoms—according to a new policy statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).  ASCO also released a new, free guide called Advanced Cancer Care Planning for patients to help initiate those conversations.

Early Palliative Care Increases Survival Time

Should cancer care focused on quality of life wait until all treatment ends?  Or can it be integrated with medical treatment as soon as someone is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness? In a study of 150 advanced lung cancer patients, starting palliative care along with standard life-prolonging treatment when patients were first diagnosed not only improved their mood and quality of life, it actually increased the time they lived. Although patients who received early palliative care received less aggressive treatment at the end of life, they lived almost 3 months longer than patients who didn’t have such early support.

Phone Calls Improve Life for People with Advanced Cancer

Regular phone calls from specially trained nurses improved quality of life and reduced depression in rural patients with advanced cancer. However, the calls didn’t reduce cancer symptoms or time in the hospital. While patients in the telephone based-palliative care program did live slightly longer than patients who received regular care, the difference wasn’t significant.

End of Life Discussions with Doctors Help Patients and Caregivers

When advanced cancer patients talk with their doctors about preparing for the end of their lives, they have a better quality of life as death approaches.  They aren’t more likely to be depressed, and they receive less aggressive care in the last week of life. Because it is frightening and uncomfortable, many patients don’t bring up the subject with their doctors.  Doctors avoid end-of-life discussions because they, too, find them uncomfortable and because they fear depressing patients or causing emotional problems.

Massage Briefly Eases Pain and Helps Mood for Dying Cancer Patients

Massage from a trained massage therapist gave pain relief and raised moods for dying cancer patients immediately after each treatment.  However, the effects didn’t last over time. Researchers compared the effects of simple touch to therapeutic massage for 380 patients in a hospice program.  Randomly, some patients received up to six 30-minutes massages over a three week period.  Other patients were simply touched briefly in ten different places on their body over three minutes. 

Depression Can Hasten Cancer Death

Depressed patients with advanced cancer die sooner than those who are not depressed.  The more serious the depression, the more likely they are to die prematurely. Researchers in the United Kingdom screened cancer patients for depression using tests that were originally designed to diagnose depression in women after childbirth.  They looked at feelings of worthlessness and sadness and thoughts of suicide, as well as measuring pain and cancer symptoms.  They found a little less than one-third (29 percent) of advanced cancer patients were depressed.  Six months later half of those identified patients who were still alive remained depressed.

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