Palliative Care

Boston, MA—Family- and patient-related factors were identified as the most significant barriers to early end-of-life discussions, as well as to the timely discontinuation of cancer-directed therapies in the palliative setting, according to the results of a multicenter survey of oncologists in Ontario, Canada.
San Antonio, TX—An innovative care model program for end-of-life care for patients with cancer improved symptom management, reduced hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths, and increased the use of hospice care.
Palliative care offers symptom relief, comfort, and peaceful death to patients with advanced cancer. Historically, palliative care was provided to patients who were near death. Based on recent research, however, the American Society of Clinical Oncology now recommends combining palliative care with curative treatment early in the disease course. Nevertheless, an important question remains: How early in the disease trajectory should patients with advanced cancer begin receiving palliative care?
Chicago, IL—The combination of ibrutinib (Imbruvica) plus standard therapy with bendamustine (Treanda) and rituximab (Rituxan) significantly reduced the risk for disease progression or death by 80% compared with bendamustine plus rituximab alone in previously treated patients with chronic ­lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL), according to lead investigator Asher A. Chanan-Khan, MD, Chair, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL.
Boston, MA—In September 2014, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report entitled, “Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.” A key recommendation in the report is that clinicians need to initiate conversations about dying.
Boston, MA—Palliative care has long been thought of as care only at the very end of life, but oncologists have recently realized the value of providing it earlier in the course of treatment. At the 2014 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium, Patricia A. Ganz, MD, Director of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles, advocated for palliative care being central to survivorship care.
Boston, MA—New research provides hard data demonstrating that having an advance directive with a do not resuscitate (DNR) order leads to a significant cost reduction in the critical care of patients with advanced cancer. The study, reported at the 2014 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium, is one of the first to quantify the cost-savings that can result when critical care patients with advanced cancer have a DNR. Diane G. Portman, MD, Chair of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine at Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL, presented the results.
Boston, MA—Offering palliative care to patients with advanced cancer earlier rather than later in the course of disease can improve outcomes and reduce costs, according to a new study presented at the 2014 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium. Early palliative care had a dramatic impact on the number of emergency department visits and inpatient deaths, among other measures.
Boston, MA—A long-awaited cost analysis of a randomized trial comparing early palliative care with standard care in patients with metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) did not produce results that reached statistical significance, but the findings were positive, the researchers said, given that early palliative care has been shown to improve survival and other outcomes.

Amy J. Berman, BS, RN, was diagnosed with incurable stage IV breast cancer almost 2 years ago. In the following interview, she discusses with Value-Based Cancer Care (VBCC) her recent experience, and why she chose to focus on quality of life rather than on the length of her life.

VBCC: Can you share with us your professional background, and how this relates to your cancer diagnosis and treatment decisions, and how this may also relate to other patients with cancer?

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