Initial conclusions from a study presented at the 2015 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium suggest that a new treatment model that combines palliative care with shorter radiation therapy sessions may benefit patients with bone metastases. According to senior author Kavita Dharmarajan, MD, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, the standard treatment for bone metastases is 10 radiation treatments, but shorter treatment is just as effective. In the study, involving 336 patients with stage IV cancer, the number of patients receiving ≤5 fewer radiation treatments increased from 26% to 61%. Additionally, patients received a careful evaluation of psychosocial, spiritual, and logistical concerns.
Use of shorter radiation treatments under the new model was associated with an increase in the proportion of patients receiving palliative care within a month (49% vs 34%). There was also a decrease in patients’ median length of stay (18 vs 12 days) and a reduction in the proportion of unfinished radiation treatments (15% vs 8%). “Partnering with palliative care helps us incorporate goals and preferences into our care plans,” commented Dr. Dharmarajan. “When we work together, patients receive a higher quality of care that focuses on the whole person, not just a tumor.”
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Read more about the study and recommendations here.