CancerPalliative/End of Life

Starting palliative care earlier in lung cancer patients

Patients with metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer have substantial symptoms and may receive aggressive care at the end of life.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, report improvement with earlier initiation of palliative care.

First, the details.

  • 151 patients with newly diagnosed metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer were assigned to a treatment group.
    • Palliative care + standard oncologic care
    • Standard oncologic care alone
  • Quality of life and mood were assessed at the start of the study and at 12 weeks using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Lung (FACT-L) scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, respectively.
  • Data on end-of-life care were collected from electronic medical records.

And, the results.

  • Patients assigned to early palliative care had a better quality of life vs standard care.
  • Significantly fewer patients in the palliative care group had depressive symptoms (16% vs 38%).
  • Despite the fact that significantly fewer patients in the early palliative care group received aggressive end-of-life care (33% vs 54%), they lived significantly longer (12 vs 9 months).

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Among patients with metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer, early palliative care led to significant improvements in both quality of life and mood.”

Most interesting is that in this study; “patients receiving early palliative care had less aggressive care at the end of life but longer survival.”

10/1/10 20:29 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.