[This is reposted with permission from the #LCSM Chat website]
The next #LCSM Chat will occur on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 5 PM Pacific (8 PM Eastern). The subject will be “Palliative Care for Lung Cancer Patients” moderated by lung cancer patient and advocate Janet Freeman-Daily. Please note this discussion will focus on comfort care provided to a cancer patient at any time after diagnosis–before, during or after active treatment. We will not be discussing hospice.
#LCSM has invited several palliative care specialists to participate in this chat. Confirmed guests include @ctsinclair (Christian Sinclair, MD, #hpm chat co-founder, editor of pallimed.org), and @chatburn (Andi Chatburn, MD, kansascityhospice.org).
You can learn more about how to participate in an #LCSM tweetchat here. If you find tweetchats are not your cup of tea, please feel free to add your questions or concerns about palliative care in the comment section of this blog post by noon Thursday January 16, and we’ll do our best to address them during the chat if time allows.
T1: What services and benefits can palliative care specialists provide to lung cancer patients and their families?
T2: How can we help patients, family members and medical professionals understand differences between palliative care and hospice?
T3: How might healthcare providers best introduce the topic of palliative care to their lung cancer patients?
T4: How can we help more lung cancer patients take advantage of palliative care services?
The key points of the National Cancer Institute’s factsheet on palliative care say:
- Palliative care is comfort care given to a patient who has a serious or life-threatening disease, such as cancer, from the time of diagnosis and throughout the course of illness. It is usually provided by a specialist who works with a team of other health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, registered dieticians, pharmacists, and social workers.
- Palliative care is different from hospice care. Although they share the same principles of comfort and support, palliative care begins at diagnosis and continues during cancer treatment and beyond.
- Hospitals, cancer centers, and long-term care facilities provide palliative care. Patients may also receive it at home. Physicians and local hospitals can provide the names of palliative care or symptom management specialists.
- Palliative care addresses the emotional, physical, practical, and spiritual issues of cancer. Family members may also receive palliative care.
- Research shows that palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and family members, as well as the physical and emotional symptoms of cancer and its treatment.
A clinical trial conducted at the National Cancer Institute found palliative care improves survival and quality of life in advanced lung cancer. However, as discussed in a 2011 Los Angeles Times article, the palliative care specialty still faces challenges. A New England Journal of Medicine article recently stated, “Palliative care suffers from an identity problem. Seventy percent of Americans describe themselves as ‘not at all knowledgeable’ about palliative care, and most health care professionals believe it is synonymous with end-of-life care.” The challenges are even greater in developing countries. A global survey by the European Society for Medical Oncology found “a ‘pandemic of untreated cancer pain’ caused by too strict regulation of pain medication.”