If a study in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine was a report about a new treatment that extended the lives of patients with advanced lung cancer by almost 3 months, the crowds would be cheering. But it isn’t a study of a new chemotherapy drug, targeted therapy or vaccine. And I doubt there are lots of cheers in the audience.
It’s much simpler than an expensive, complicated new treatment for a devastating disease. It’s about starting palliative care to help patients deal with the symptoms from their disease and its treatment early in the course of that disease leading to a dramatic improvement in survival in a cancer that is almost always fatal.
Non-small cell lung cancer is a killer for many people. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in this country, although the numbers are declining with the decrease in smoking, especially among men. But once diagnosed as having spread outside the primary area of the cancer, the outlook is grim and for most folks is less than one year.
That one year is difficult enough knowing that you have a fatal illness. But the treatments for the disease-and the … Continue reading →