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Concept: Palliative care

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Objective To determine the availability of data on overall survival and quality of life benefits of cancer drugs approved in Europe.Design Retrospective cohort study.Setting Publicly accessible regulatory and scientific reports on cancer approvals by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from 2009 to 2013.Main outcome measures Pivotal and postmarketing trials of cancer drugs according to their design features (randomisation, crossover, blinding), comparators, and endpoints. Availability and magnitude of benefit on overall survival or quality of life determined at time of approval and after market entry. Validated European Society for Medical Oncology Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (ESMO-MCBS) used to assess the clinical value of the reported gains in published studies of cancer drugs.Results From 2009 to 2013, the EMA approved the use of 48 cancer drugs for 68 indications. Of these, eight indications (12%) were approved on the basis of a single arm study. At the time of market approval, there was significant prolongation of survival in 24 of the 68 (35%). The magnitude of the benefit on overall survival ranged from 1.0 to 5.8 months (median 2.7 months). At the time of market approval, there was an improvement in quality of life in seven of 68 indications (10%). Out of 44 indications for which there was no evidence of a survival gain at the time of market authorisation, in the subsequent postmarketing period there was evidence for extension of life in three (7%) and reported benefit on quality of life in five (11%). Of the 68 cancer indications with EMA approval, and with a median of 5.4 years' follow-up (minimum 3.3 years, maximum 8.1 years), only 35 (51%) had shown a significant improvement in survival or quality of life, while 33 (49%) remained uncertain. Of 23 indications associated with a survival benefit that could be scored with the ESMO-MCBS tool, the benefit was judged to be clinically meaningful in less than half (11/23, 48%).Conclusions This systematic evaluation of oncology approvals by the EMA in 2009-13 shows that most drugs entered the market without evidence of benefit on survival or quality of life. At a minimum of 3.3 years after market entry, there was still no conclusive evidence that these drugs either extended or improved life for most cancer indications. When there were survival gains over existing treatment options or placebo, they were often marginal.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Cohort study, Clinical trial, Cancer, Oncology, Evaluation, Chemotherapy, Palliative care

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The presence of acute or chronic respiratory failure is often seen as a terminal phase of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A great variability in end-of-life practice is observed in these patients mainly because physicians are not always able to correctly predict survival. There is a need for a clear discussion about decision making earlier than when acute respiratory failure ensues. Indeed, a perceived poor quality of life does not necessarily correlate with a clear willingness to refuse invasive or noninvasive mechanical ventilation. It has been suggested to start palliative care earlier, together with curative and restorative care, when there is an increased intensity of symptoms. The patients eligible for palliative care are those complaining of breathlessness, pain, fatigue and depression, which in some studies accounted for a prevalence much higher than 50%. Among comfort measures for palliation, oxygen is frequently prescribed even when the criteria for long-term home oxygen therapy are not met; however, when compared with air, no benefits on dyspnoea have been found. The only drug with a proven effect on dyspnoea is morphine, but not when it is delivered with a nebuliser. Finally, noninvasive ventilation may be used only as a comfort measure for palliation to maximise comfort by minimising adverse effects.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Pneumonia, Mechanical ventilation, Palliative care, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Palliative medicine, End-of-life care, Terminal sedation

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The response to haloperidol as a first-line neuroleptic and the pattern of neuroleptic rotation after haloperidol failure have not been well defined in palliative care. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of haloperidol as a first-line neuroleptic and the predictors associated with the need to rotate to a second neuroleptic.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Palliative care, Frequency, Rotation, Haloperidol, Equator

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It is unknown if patients who suffer from laryngeal cancer and undergo total laryngectomy experience as much emotional shock and psychological distress as patients with cancers in other locations do. The aim of the study was to identify the incidence of emotional and psychological disorders in laryngectomized patients and describe their symptomatological nuances.

Concepts: Psychology, Cancer, Oncology, Palliative care, Abnormal psychology, Psychiatry

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Current estimates suggest that approximately 75% of people approaching the end-of-life may benefit from palliative care. The growing numbers of older people and increasing prevalence of chronic illness in many countries mean that more people may benefit from palliative care in the future, but this has not been quantified. The present study aims to estimate future population palliative care need in two high-income countries.

Concepts: Present, Time, Medicine, Future, Palliative care, Palliative medicine, Past, End-of-life care

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People with advanced illness usually want their healthcare where they live-at home-not in the hospital. Innovative models of palliative care that better meet the needs of seriously ill people at lower cost should be explored.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health, Patient, Palliative care, Illness, Hospice, Curative care

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Early palliative care is increasingly recommended but seldom practised. We sought to examine perceptions of palliative care among patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Palliative care, Hospice, Nursing specialties

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To assess the efficacy of active treatment targeted at underlying disease (TTD)/potentially curative treatments versus palliative care (PC) in improving overall survival (OS) in terminally ill patients.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Medical terms, Palliative care, Illness, Palliative medicine, Hospice, Nursing specialties

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Palliative care, a medical field that has been practiced informally for centuries, was recently granted formal specialty status by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The demand for palliative care specialists is growing rapidly, since timely palliative care consultations have been shown to improve the quality of care, reduce overall costs, and sometimes even increase longevity.1,2 The field grew out of a hospice tradition in which palliative treatment was delivered only at the end of life, but its role has expanded so that palliative care specialists now also provide palliative treatment in the earlier stages of disease alongside disease-directed . . .

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Palliative care, Palliative medicine, Hospice, Cicely Saunders

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Chemotherapy for metastatic lung or colorectal cancer can prolong life by weeks or months and may provide palliation, but it is not curative.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Lung cancer, Chemotherapy, Colorectal cancer, Palliative care