Palliative care provides significant benefits to patients diagnosed with incurable cancer. Symptom management is a well-known feature of palliative care, but communication with palliative care clinicians is also critical; patients with poor understanding of treatment goals or who have not discussed their preferences in end-of-life care have worse outcomes at the end of life. An early palliative care intervention, involving monthly meetings with a palliative care clinician until death, was tested to fulfill these communication needs over the course of cancer treatment.
Newly diagnosed lung cancer patients who received the early integrated palliative and oncology care intervention reported improved quality of life and less depression in comparison with lung cancer patients receiving usual care. However, patients with non-colorectal gastrointestinal cancer receiving either the intervention or usual care reported improvements in mood and quality of life. The difference between the patient groups may be associated with gastrointestinal cancer patients spending more time in hospitals prior to cancer diagnosis. Patients receiving the intervention were more likely to have discussed their preferences in end-of-life care with clinicians and to report that knowing their prognoses was helpful in decision-making. These findings indicate a significant positive impact of discussions with palliative care clinicians on patients with incurable cancer.
Temel JS, Greer JA, El-Jawahri A, Pirl WF, Park ER, Jackson VA, Back AL, Kamdar M, Jacobsen J, Chittenden EH, Rinaldi SP, Gallagher ER, Eusebio JR, Li Z, Muzikansky A, Ryan DP. Effects of Early Integrated Palliative Care in Patients With Lung and GI Cancer: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Clin Oncol. 2017 Mar 10;35(8):834-841. PMID: 28029308