CancerCare Announces Findings of Lung Cancer Roundtable

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This past October, CancerCare held a roundtable discussion titled “Improving the Quality of Life for Lung Cancer Patients” at its national headquarters in New York City. Celebrated lung cancer advocates and key opinion leaders in lung cancer treatment held a dialogue and gave presentations reviewing the significance of patient-reported outcomes related to patients with lung cancer in regards to:

  • cancer-related weight changes;
  • dietary recommendations;
  • the role of exercise in rehabilitative medicine;
  • and the use of social media in mounting a call to action in support of these causes.

The roundtable focused on promoting greater relevance of Quality of Life (QOL) and Patient Reported Outcomes (PRO) in the management of lung cancer patients. Evidence was presented demonstrating that patients value QOL with more regard than symptoms in lung cancer, and that treatment should be evaluated based on its effects on QOL or PROs as well as survival. According to a patient study, the top five points of concern for lung cancer patients were: QOL, maintaining independence, burdening others, performing normal activities, and ability to sleep. Notably, none of these issues are symptoms (ie. pain, cough, depression, fatigue).

Roundtable participants voiced that the roles of nutrition and physical fitness are vital to combating cancer cachexia and sarcopenia (weakness and wasting of the body due to illness, and loss of skeletal muscle mass due to illness, respectively.) Identifying patients in need of nutritional intervention at diagnosis is important, and stopping weight loss in the “pre-cachectic” state (prior to 10% weight loss) is essential. Compared with patients receiving standard of care, lung cancer patients who received early interventions to relieve symptoms required less aggressive care at end of life and also lived longer.

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Additionally, from diagnosis throughout the cancer care continuum, participants stressed that it is important to sustain physical fitness not only because it contributes to good QOL, but because it directly counteracts many of the side effects of both lung cancer and its treatments. Current data suggests that regular exercise and attention to fitness should begin at the time of diagnosis and continue through pretreatment, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and post-surgery rehabilitation. Post-treatment studies have shown that with less exercise, more post-treatment problems occur.

And, the roundtable findings showed that social media provides a powerful venue through which the cause of QOL and PROs as more highly valued lung cancer care criteria can be advanced. The social media surrounding lung cancer as well as other forms of cancer have generated what are now known as Patient Opinion Leaders (POLs). These are individuals whose names have become known and respected because of their expertise and knowledge in the field. Their participation in relevant lung cancer events and social media communications over time in the field have brought them a huge support network and following, and has the ability to gain the attention of influential oncologists and health care professionals. Strategically, focused groups can be developed within the lung cancer community that can impact medical practice and improve the quality of lung cancer care.

alt textWin Boerckel, LCSW

CancerCare National Lung Cancer Program Coordinator Win Boerckel, LCSW served as conference leader. Boeckel shares, "It quickly became apparent throughout our discussions that there needs to be a robust call to action for both the lung cancer advocacy and health care provider communities to unite in a movement to bring about the integration of dietary and exercise interventions in the overall therapeutic effort in the treatment of all lung cancer patients. The use of social media also provides us with a powerful instrument to bring such an important outcome about."

CancerCare is grateful to the following collaborating organizations for their contributions to this roundtable discussion: Prevent Cancer Foundation; Dusty Joy Foundation; Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Upstage Lung Cancer; Cancer Support Community; Caring Ambassadors Lung Cancer Program; LUNGevity Foundation; Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide; American Lung Association; Lung Cancer Alliance; Levine Cancer Institute; and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – Integrative Medicine Center.

The distinguished faculty contributing to the roundtable was comprised of Richard Gralla, MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Michele Szafranski, MS, RD, DSO, LDN from the Levine Cancer Institute, Donna Wilson, RN, MSN, RRT from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center-Integrative Medicine Center; and Ritesh Patel, EVP- Chief Digital Officer for Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, who provided all with thought-provoking input that provided hours of stimulating interactive discussion.

For more than 70 years, CancerCare has provided free support services for anyone affected by lung cancer. To learn more about our free services, call 800-813-HOPE (4673) or visit www.lungcancer.org.

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