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Lung cancer: Early palliative care can lead to improvements in quality of life, mood

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Lung cancer remains the number one cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. However, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, among patients with advanced stage lung cancer, early palliative care led to significant improvements in both quality of life and mood.

As compared with patients receiving standard care, patients receiving early palliative care also underwent less aggressive care at the end of life and longer survival. Palliative care (medicine) is a medical subspecialty that focuses on providing care for individuals with life-limiting illnesses.

With the primary goal of enhancing the patient’s and family’s quality of life, palliative medicine takes a holistic approach, including psychosocial and spiritual care, along with symptom management.

Traditionally, lung cancer has been treated in three main ways: surgical intervention, chemotherapy and/or radiation.

Adding palliative care as a fourth dimension of lung cancer treatment can help mollify common side effects caused by other cancer therapies. Palliative care not only helps with physical suffering, it also helps improve a patient’s spiritual, emotional and social well-being during cancer treatment.

Cone Health understands the importance of palliative care into cancer treatment and is currently working towards integrating a dedicated palliative care program into the treatment process at Cone Health Cancer Center.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Murali Ramaswamy is a pulmonary and critical care specialist at LeBauer Pulmonology and a member of Cone Health medical staff.  Dr. Ramaswamy is also board-certified in palliative medicine. Dr. Ramaswamy is a 1995 graduate of Coimbatore Medical College in Tamil Nadu, India.  He completed his residency in internal medicine at MetroHealth Medical Center at Case Western University, and completed a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at University of Iowa Healthcare.  Dr. Ramaswamy is a clinical assistant professor at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and serves as the assistant director of Piedmont Respiratory Research Foundation.