Early Palliative Care May Be Beneficial to Lung, Gastrointestinal Cancer Patients

Early integration of palliative care for patients with newly diagnosed incurable gastrointestinal and lung cancers improved quality of life, reduced depression symptoms, and enhanced coping with prognosis, according to a randomized clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The researchers enrolled 350 adult patients within 8 weeks of being diagnosed with incurable lung — non–small cell lung cancer, small-cell or mesothelioma — or noncolorectal gastrointestinal cancers, including pancreatic, esophageal, gastric or hepatobiliary cancers. The researchers randomly assigned patients to receive early integrated palliative care and oncology care or “usual care” between May 2011 and July 2015.

Patients with lung cancer who received at least monthly palliative care consultations reported improvements in quality of life and depression at 12 and 24 weeks, whereas usual care patients with lung cancer reported deterioration. Patients with gastrointestinal cancers in both study groups reported improvements in quality of life and mood by week 12. Click here to read more details and insights on the significance of this study.

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