Advanced cancer patients
are a lot better off receiving palliative care, where treating symptoms is the
focus, than traditional treatments, according to a new study by Tulane.
Graduate student Laura Perry says the research, led by Tulane Assistant Professor
Michael Hoerger, could inspire a new norm for patients with severe prognoses.
“Historically, it’s been delivered
to patients who have been admitted to the hospital as in-patients, near the end
of life. Recently, it’s been provided on
an out-patient basis, early on.″
2,092 patients were
observed, and 56 percent of those who received palliative treatment survived
past a year, compared to 42 percent who got typical treatments.
Typical treatments tend
to focus on attacking the root disease that’s impacting the patient’s health,
but Perry says by addressing symptoms and making life more comfortable, you may
see better results in advanced cases.
“It’s largely focused on relieving
symptoms like pain and nausea or trouble breathing, as well as, emotional
concerns that might be associated with their illness.”
The treatment also
involves meeting monthly with a team of health professionals with expertise in
Perry says the treatment
could mean keeping a loved one around a good bit longer than other treatments.
“Advanced cancer patients who received
palliative care on an out-patient basis tended to live four months longer than
patients that did not receive it.”