Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study helps pancreatic cancer patients make hard choices

Date:
August 23, 2012
Source:
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Summary:
Researchers have examined SEER data on 25,476 pancreatic cancer patients, correlating days spent on medical care with disease stage, type of treatment and survival time. The first of its kind, the study is intended to provide physicians and patients with vital information needed to maximize quality of life for people with pancreatic cancer.

Every year, nearly 45,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The odds against those stricken by the disease are truly dismal; pancreatic cancer almost always kills within two years after diagnosis, no matter how it is treated. Even aggressive intervention with chemotherapy, radiation or surgery rarely yields more than an extra month to a year of survival, depending on the stage of the disease.

This raises a tough question: should patients who know they are going to die soon spend a substantial amount of what little time they have left undergoing aggressive and difficult treatment -- treatment likely to bring them only a brief period of additional life?

"It's about balancing quality and quantity of life, really," said Dr. Casey Boyd, a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston surgery resident and lead author of a paper analyzing the problem in the current issue of Annals of Surgical Oncology. "For pancreatic cancer we know the quantity of life is short, so maximizing the quality of life is important -- and the best way we can do that is to give patients concrete data that they can look at and use in their treatment decisions."

Boyd and her colleagues approached the issue by drawing on the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database, examining SEER records for 25,476 pancreatic cancer patients and focusing on two factors that directly affect patients' lives: hospital days and days spent in medical care. (Hospital days were days spent as hospital inpatients, while medical care days included days in the hospital as well as other days on which the patient visited a physician, underwent a diagnostic test, or received a treatment).

"This study is the first to bring together hospital and medical care days in pancreatic cancer patients with stage, treatment and survival, and it gives us a quantitative look at the whole experience of a patient with pancreatic cancer," Boyd said. "We hope that physicians can use the information in this paper to give patients what they need to make critical decisions."

For example, Boyd said, a doctor could draw on the paper to counsel a patient with metastatic pancreatic cancer -- the most common and deadly type. "The physician could say, if you have chemotherapy you may live four to six weeks longer, but a lot of that time you're going to be in the hospital, or getting a test, or getting a needle poked in your arm for your chemotherapy," she said. "Some patients may say, I want that, I want the most life that you can give me."

Others, she noted, might make a different choice if given an accurate picture of the treatment experience.

"They might say, it's not really worth it to me -- it's a few extra weeks, but they may be miserable weeks," Boyd said. "They may decide not to have any treatment and maybe just have hospice, or just spend time with their family."

The ability to help patients make such difficult decisions was the main goal of the study, according to Boyd.

"Really, this paper is about empowering the patient," she said. "We want to provide them with the information they need to make their own personalized treatment decisions."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Study helps pancreatic cancer patients make hard choices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823143851.htm>.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (2012, August 23). Study helps pancreatic cancer patients make hard choices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823143851.htm
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Study helps pancreatic cancer patients make hard choices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823143851.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins