Monday, September 13, 2010
The 'palliative care extends life in NSCLCA trial' has made its way to broadcast nightly news (see embed below). It's an interesting couple minutes, and while very positive about palliative care, I'm curious as to others' reactions to this. Watch it - you'll see what I mean. The patient, a middle-aged man with advanced lung cancer who is clearly living with his cancer with as much dignity and vitality as could be imagined, is also the healthiest appearing advanced lung cancer patient I've seen in a while; much of the stock footage seems to take place on a pulmonary rehab unit (e.g. on the treadmill) (?); the palliative care clinician is called a 'guide'; and alternative medicine interventions are given as much airtime as anything else. It sorta de-medicalizes what we do, and if I had no clue what palliative care was I'd think it was some sort of friendly person who stuck you on a treadmill and referred you for qigong. It's kind of like watching one of those Zyprexa ads where you see that attractive middle-aged woman leading this meaning-filled, poignant life full of family and work and you say to yourself 'Gee I wish I felt like that & I don't even have bipolar disorder.' Such are the growing pains of fame for our field, I guess.
That aside - the piece focuses as much, or more, on quality of life and symptom improvement than the mortality benefit, and, per my post about the paper, I can't see how this is anything but a net boon to our patients and access to us.
Our blog contributor Brian McMichael alerted us to this - thanks Brian!
(Late edit - read Brian's comments for links to related interviews.)