Cancer patients find that receiving palliative care electronically is just as helpful as receiving it in person.

Cancer patients  Chicago — According to a new study presented on Sunday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, comfort can be given to patients with advanced cancer electronically just as effectively as in person.

Palliative care specialists will be relieved to hear this, as they have frequently found that telehealth sessions are more convenient and effective for both themselves and their patients. This is because virtual visits were made necessary by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cancer patients find that receiving palliative care electronically is just as helpful as receiving it in person.

Cancer patients  “I can work with patient after patient while sitting in my office or at home. The efficiency of palliative care is increased, but not the quantity of healthcare workers providing it, according to Thomas Smith, a medical oncologist and palliative care specialist at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center who was not involved in the study. These research are really relevant. I’m happy they’re here. Simply put, there aren’t enough palliative care specialists to offer the necessary treatment.

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Palliative care, which is commonly confused with hospice or end-of-life care, is not provided to the majority of patients who have been diagnosed with advanced cancer. Palliative care professionals offer assistance to patients and their families, aiming to make any difficult medical condition—such as cancer—a little easier to handle. This could involve assisting people in better understanding their illness, controlling their pain or anxiety, or even having existential conversations.

Cancer patients find that receiving palliative care electronically is just as helpful as receiving it in person.

Cancer patients  Lead author of the study and psychologist at Mass General Hospital Cancer Center Joseph Greer stated, “This is focused on quality of life.” “Emotional and functional well-being, spiritual wellbeing, and symptom management.”

Although it might not be directly curing the patient’s cancer, comfort is still a worthy goal, according to Greer. More than ten years ago, he and his colleague, oncologist Jennifer Texel of the MGH Cancer Center, demonstrated that patients who received early palliative care really lived longer than those who did not.

“Those who received symptom control and palliative care had longer lives—by 2.7 months. It has been observed in multiple additional experiments, according to Smith. Palliative care has been found in past studies to improve patient survival by about 10% after a year or two, according to Smith. “The majority of oncologists would kill for a medication that would increase their chance of survival.”

Cancer patients  If there was no significant harm from not being in person, moving palliative care sessions to telehealth might make it possible for more people to receive this kind of care. Greer and Texel initiated this study seven years ago with the goal of testing that, and they enrolled 1,250 patients who had advanced lung cancer. While the other half were required to make monthly trips into the cancer center, the other half were randomly allocated to get palliative treatment virtually.

Upon completion of the research, no statistically significant distinction was observed between the cohorts concerning their levels of anxiety and depression, their utilization of coping mechanisms, or their comprehension of their cancer prognosis and therapy. According to Greer, some patients extended an invitation to their caregivers to take part in the study. Caregivers in both groups also reported comparable results for program satisfaction and emotional symptoms.

Cancer patients find that receiving palliative care electronically is just as helpful as receiving it in person.

Cancer patients  Based on more intangible benefits of virtual visits, these results should support the continuation or even growth of telehealth palliative care programs, according to Elizabeth Loggers, an oncologist and palliative care specialist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

“There are several benefits when palliative care is provided via telehealth. Their careers or anybody else in the nation can attend that appointment to provide support, and they can remain in their jammies at home, according to her. Additionally, it enables people to take part even when they’re at their lowest. The challenge with in-person care is that, at your lowest, you are unlikely to drive to the center in order to receive care.

According to Loggers, virtual visits might potentially improve the effectiveness of the healthcare system by saving doctors from having to wait for patients to arrive late for their appointment, check in, or enter an exam room. Given that so few patients now have access to palliative care, these benefits might just help a higher percentage of patients receive it, according to Loggers.

Cancer patients find that receiving palliative care electronically is just as helpful as receiving it in person.

Cancer patients  Experts in palliative care are also investigating further strategies to speed up patient appointments. In a different abstract, Texel of MGH presented at ASCO in Chicago and had published in JAMA, she demonstrated that patients with less physical or emotional symptoms might receive palliative care visits less frequently without seeing a decline in the effectiveness of the care.

Cancer patients  She expressed hope that these research will assist additional centers in figuring out how to provide palliative care to a greater number of their patients. “We have expanded our methods or approaches for delivering palliative care,” the speaker stated. “We want to ensure that more patients are utilizing this crucial service because we know it’s the best way to care for patients.”

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