Tulane cancer study links longer life to patients with special care

December 07, 2018 - 8:37 am

(WWL.com) - 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 the area.

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.”

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