Suncare advice for cancer patients

Picture

Patients who have received treatment for cancer can often have long-term sensitivity to sun. Macmillan Cancer Support have published useful advice concerning Taking Care in the Sun

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Advertisements

Integrative medicine relieves pain and anxiety for patients with cancer

Pain is a common symptom of cancer and side effect of cancer treatment, and treating cancer-related pain is often a challenge for health care providers. The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing researchers found that integrative medicine therapies can substantially decrease pain and anxiety for hospitalized cancer patients. Their findings are published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs.

Following Integrative medicine interventions, such as medical massage, acupuncture, guided imagery or relaxation response intervention, cancer patients experienced a reduction in pain by an average of 47 percent and anxiety by 56 percent,” said Jill Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author and Senior Scientific Advisor at the Penny George Institute.

The size of these reductions is clinically important, because theoretically, these therapies can be as effective as medications, which is the next step of our research,” said Jeffery Dusek, Ph.D., senior author and Research Director for the Penny George Institute.

The Penny George Institute receives funding from the National Center of Alternative and Complementary Medicine of the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of integrative therapies on pain over many hours as well as over the course of a patient’s entire hospital stay.

The overall goal of this research is to determine how integrative services can be used with or instead of narcotic medications to control pain,” Johnson said.

Researchers looked at electronic medical records from admissions at Abbott Northwestern Hospital between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012. From more than ten thousand admissions, researchers identified 1,833 in which cancer patients received integrative medicine services.

Patients were asked to report their pain and anxiety before and just after the integrative medicine intervention, which averaged 30 minutes in duration. Patients being treated for lung, bronchus, and trachea cancers showed the largest percentage decrease in pain (51 percent). Patients with prostate cancer reported the largest percentage decrease in anxiety (64 percent).

Johnson et al., (2014). Effects of Integrative Medicine on Pain and Anxiety Among Oncology Inpatients. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. Monogr., 50: 330-337, doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgu030 [Abstract]

Many patients in cancer centers may not experience a dignified death

A new study that surveyed physicians and nurses in hospitals within cancer centers in Germany suggests that many patients there do not experience a dignified death. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates the need for cancer centers to invest more in palliative care services, adequate rooms for dying patients, staff training in end-of-life care, and advance-care-planning standards.

Previous research has shown that hospitals are often ill-prepared to provide care for dying patients. To investigate whether the circumstances for dying on cancer center wards allow for a dignified death, Karin Jors, MA, of the University Medical Center Freiburg, and her colleagues surveyed physicians and nurses in 16 hospitals belonging to 10 cancer centers in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The survey addressed topics regarding end-of-life care including structural conditions such as rooms and staff, education/training, working environment, family/caregivers, medical treatment, communication with patients, and dignified death.

Among 1131 survey respondents, 57 percent believed that patients could die with dignity on their ward. Half of the survey staff members indicated that they rarely have enough time to care for dying patients, and 55 percent found the rooms available for dying patients unsatisfactory. Only 19 percent of respondents felt that they had been well-prepared to care for dying patients (and only 6 percent of physicians felt so). Palliative care staff reported much better conditions for dying patients than staff from other wards, with 95 percent of palliative care staff indicating that patients die with dignity on their wards. Generally, physicians perceived the circumstances for dying patients much more positively than nurses, especially regarding communication and life-prolonging measures. While 72 percent of physicians reported that patients can usually die a dignified death on their ward, only 52 percent of nurses shared this opinion.

In our ageing society, it is predicted that the number of hospital deaths will continue to rise in the coming years, and many of these deaths will be attributable to cancer. For this reason, it is particularly important that cancer centers strive to create a comfortable, dignified experience for dying patients and their families,” said Jors. “Above all, this requires that staff members are provided with the adequate resources to care for these patients.”

The investigators encourage the integration of palliative care into standard oncology care, beginning as early as diagnosis. They also note that physicians and nurses would benefit from increased education and training in end-of-life care. To promote the development of standards for end-of-life care, establish a comprehensive palliative care curriculum for health care staff, and to encourage further research in this field, the Palliative Care Center of Excellence in Baden-Württemberg (KOMPACT) was established in 2014. “This center combines the expertise of five academic, specialist palliative care departments. We believe that this cooperation is a valuable tool for improving patient care in the end-of-life setting,” said Jors.

Jors et al., (2014). Dying in cancer centers: Do the circumstances allow for a dignified death? Cancer, EPub Ahead of Print, DOI: 10.1002/cncr.28702 [Abstract]