A recent study examined the impact of early palliative care (EPC) on quality of life for patients with advanced cancer.1

The researchers wished to determine the effectiveness of EPC for the various advanced cancer demographic groups, such as age and gender.

The investigators, based at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, compared patients in a metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) trial receiving EPC vs. those receiving traditional oncology care only.

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Data from 107 patients (57 female and 50 male) with metastatic NSCLC diagnosed from 2006 through 2009 were reviewed. Quality of life was measured via a record of patient mood after 12 weeks (utilizing Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS] and Patient Health Questionnaire 9) and also the Trial Outcome Index (TOI).

The researchers saw little difference in outcomes for older and female patient groups, but younger patients who received EPC as a complement to their oncology care reported a lower rate of depression (TOI mean of 49.43 vs. 62.04).

In addition, male patients who received EPC also reported lower rates of depression and improved quality of life (TOI mean of 58.81 vs 48.30). Additional study on the interaction between demographic characteristics and early palliative care may enable clinicians to better develop care interventions tailored for specific groups.


1. Nipp RD, Greer JA, El-Jawahri A, Traeger L, et al. Age and gender moderate the impact of early palliative care in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer [published online ahead of print November 30, 2015]. Oncologist. doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2015-0232.