Physicians are often trained to focus on the treatment of the disease, and not necessarily the treatment of the whole patient. For oncologists, traditionally, that has meant three tools: the scalpel, a radiation accelerator, or systemic treatments.
“We are trained to look at endpoints like survival, progression-free survival, and toxicity, but we also should appreciate more that the journey of a patient with cancer is a long-term journey and patients live with chronic effects of the tumor itself—the symptoms it causes and the side effects and toxicities of treatment,” said Maria Werner-Wasik, MD, who is the Walter J. Curran Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.
Dr. Werner-Wasik is co-moderating the Mini Oral Session “Palliative and Supportive Care—The Forgotten Trade,” which will take place at 14:30 CEST on Tuesday, August 9, in Strauss 3. A recording of the session will also be available on-demand within 24 hours of the live presentation.
Palliative and Supportive Care—The Forgotten Trade
- Time: 14:30-15:30 CEST
- Date: Tuesday, August 9
- Location: Strauss 3 and On-Demand
This session is designed to bring attention to some of the important advances being made in the areas of supportive and palliative care.
As an example, Dr. Werner-Wasik pointed to a 2010 study published in New England Journal of Medicine by Temel and colleagues that indicated that patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer who were assigned to early palliative care integrated into oncologic care had improvements in quality of life and mood and improvements in survival.
“Unfortunately, there is little funding or interest in funding studies focusing solely on supportive or palliative care from the pharmaceutical industry,” Dr. Werner-Wasik. “Instead, these studies are often supported by the National Institutes of Health grants or philanthropy.”
Tuesday’s session will include the presentation of six oral abstracts tackling a range of important topics.
One highly anticipated abstract is from researchers on the Sexual Health Assessment in Women with Lung Cancer (SHAWL) study. Funded in part by the Go2 Foundation, SHAWL is the first study to try to take a comprehensive look at the effect of a lung cancer diagnosis on a woman’s sexual quality of life.
“It should be quite interesting because it deals with women’s sexual health, which really doesn’t get much attention,” Dr. Werner-Wasik said. “There are issues related to sexual activity or quality of life that can be relatively easily palliated if the topic is discussed.”
Another interesting abstract will discuss the use of the antidepressant mirtazapine as a treatment for cancer-related anorexia.
“The study is a placebo-controlled study in a small number of patients, but there is large interest in this topic among patients and their families,” Dr. Werner-Wasik said.
Other abstract presentations will address bone metastases, medical cannabis, longitudinal symptoms of PD-1 inhibitors, and low paraspinous muscle index.
At the end of the session, Dr. Werner-Wasik said she hopes attendees will learn that health care providers of all types must be attuned to the supportive and palliative care needs of patients.