Cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials do better when they receive palliative care

May 21, 2002

(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Contrary to common wisdom, cancer treatment is not disrupted -- but may be enhanced -- when interventions designed to improve patients' physical, functional, emotional and social well-being are provided during clinical trials, according to a study by researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center.

The study was presented here Tuesday morning at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

"In the past, it's been an either-or situation: Seriously ill patients have been told they can have a clinical trial or they can go home and focus on quality of life," said Frederick J. Meyers, professor and chair of internal medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center and director of the West Coast Center for Palliative Education and Research.

"In our opinion, that's not an acceptable choice. Why can't patients have both?"

To answer this question, Meyers and his colleagues compared two groups of cancer patients enrolled in phase I and phase II clinical trials of investigational chemotherapy treatments. All of the patients had a prognosis of less than one year to live.

One group of patients received the investigational chemotherapy protocol only. Patients in the other group received palliative care in addition to the investigational treatment. Quality-of-life assessments were administered monthly to all patients.

In the palliative care group, a nurse and social worker made regular home visits to patients, and also accompanied patients to their clinic appointments. At these visits, the nurse and social worker emphasized symptom management, emotional support and discussion of end-of-life issues.

At the end of the seven-month study, patients in the treatment-only group scored lower on quality-of-life measurements than they had when they entered the study, while patients in the palliative care-plus-treatment group scored higher. In addition, patients in the palliative care group were more likely to finish all of their chemotherapy cycles. And more palliative-care patients were referred to hospice.

"Patients, families and physicians can address palliative care and disease-directed treatment simultaneously, without disruption of care," said Meyers, who is also medical director of the hospice program at UC Davis Medical Center.

The study was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Promoting Excellence in End of Life Care initiative.

According to Meyers, combining investigational and palliative care would represent a significant change in the culture of most cancer centers -- but the change is needed. "Quality of life issues often go un-addressed by cancer centers around the country," he said.

"This model of simultaneous investigational and palliative care emphasizes patient choice -- and is superior to the current, sequential approach," he concluded.
-end-
With a $2.5 million National Institutes of Health grant, Meyers will now conduct a larger, multi-institutional study of this simultaneous care model. That study will get under way later this year.

Meyers will be available to answer questions about his study following its presentation at an 11 a.m. poster discussion session Tuesday

Copies of all news releases from UC Davis Health System are available on the Web at http://news.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

Meyers will be available to answer questions about his study following its presentation at an 11 a.m. poster discussion session Tuesday

University of California - Davis Health System

Related Palliative Care Articles from Brightsurf:

Palliative care needed across China for everyone who needs it -- study
Palliative care should extend across China and pay more attention to managing non-malignant disease -- integrated within the country's healthcare system and available to everyone who needs it, according to a new study.

New palliative care model shown to reduce costs without compromising on quality of care
Findings from a large-scale clinical trial testing a new palliative care model have shown to be lower cost, viewed positively by patients and their carers while showing no difference in patient-reported outcomes when compared with standard care.

Palliative Care in emergency departments during COVID-19 pandemic
The clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients who received intervention by a COVID-19 palliative care response team are examined in this case series.

Palliative care for patients with cancer in COVID-19 era
The considerations and challenges affecting the palliative care specialty and delivery of palliative care in the COVID-19 era, as well as potential solutions, are discussed in this Viewpoint.

To face coronavirus disease 2019, surgeons must embrace palliative care
This Viewpoint describes the relevance of a palliative care approach to surgery during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Call for palliative care to be adapted for severely ill Covid-19 patients
Emergency-style palliative care needs to implemented to meet the needs of Covid-19 patients who wouldn't benefit from a ventilator say researchers.

A COVID-19 palliative care pandemic plan: An essential tool
Palliative care physicians have created a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) palliative care plan as an essential tool to provide care and help manage scare resources during the pandemic.

MAiD is not driven by socioeconomic vulnerability or poor access to palliative care
A new study of people who received medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in Ontario found that about three-quarters were cared for by palliative care practitioners at the time of their request for MAiD, and MAiD recipients were younger, wealthier and more likely to be married than the general population at time of death.

Palliative vs. standard care for Parkinson's disease
This randomized clinical trial that included 210 patients with Parkinson's disease and related disorders and 175 caregivers examined whether outpatient palliative care was associated with better patient or caregiver outcomes compared with standard care.

Palliative care in hospitals linked to decrease in use of ICU; treatment intensity
A new study shows that implementing hospital-based palliative care services in New York State reduces treatment intensity at the end of life for hospitalized patients.

Read More: Palliative Care News and Palliative Care Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.