The National Palliative Care Research Center

Curing suffering through palliative care research.

Lung Cancer Patients Receiving Palliative Care Lived - NEJM, Aug 19, 2010


New Study Shows Impact of Early Palliative Care Intervention

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that lung cancer patients receiving early palliative care intervention experienced less depression, improved quality of life and survived for approximately 2.7 months longer.

The results of the study underscore palliative care as an appropriate and beneficial intervention when it is introduced from the time of diagnosis of a serious or life-limiting illness — and in conjunction with all other appropriate and beneficial medical treatments.

“Palliative care has consistently proven to be beneficial to patients facing serious and complex illness,” says Diane E. Meier, MD, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care. “This study should encourage patients to seek palliative care early in the course of their illness.”

The study compared patients with newly diagnosed metastatic non small-cell lung cancer who received only standard cancer treatment to those receiving palliative care alongside usual cancer treatment, from the point of diagnosis.

A total of 151 patients were studied over the course of three years. They received questionnaires at the outset of enrollment and then 12 weeks later in order to measure mood and quality of life. Participants receiving palliative services met with a palliative care clinician once they enrolled and at least once a month thereafter. They were less likely to choose aggressive treatment,yet lived longer on average.

Palliative care is the medical specialty focused on improving overall quality of life for people facing serious and life-threatening illness. Emphasis is placed on pain and symptom control,intensive communication, including family support and shared decision-making, and coordination of care. Palliative care is not dependent on prognosis.

Until a decade ago, palliative care in the U.S. was typically available only to patients living at home and enrolled in hospice. Today, the majority of U.S hospitals report having a palliativecare program.

About the Center to Advance Palliative Care

The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) provides health care professionals with the tools, training, and technical assistance necessary to start and sustain successful palliative care programs in hospitals and other health care settings. Located at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, CAPC is a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious illness.