Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2009  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 148--154

Pattern of palliative care, pain management and referral trends in patients receiving radiotherapy at a tertiary cancer center


1 Department of Radiation Oncology, Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Anesthesia, Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Kuldeep Sharma
Department of Radiation Oncology, Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.58462

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Background: Pain is a common primary symptom of advanced cancer and metastatic disease, occurring in 50-75% of all patients. Although palliative care and pain management are essential components in oncology practice, studies show that these areas are often inadequately addressed. Materials and Methods: We randomly selected 152 patients receiving palliative radiotherapy (PRT) from October 2006 to August 2008, excluding metastatic bone lesions. Patients' records were studied retrospectively. Results: A median follow-up of 21 weeks was available for 119 males and 33 females with a median age of 55 years. Maximum (60%) patients were of head and neck cancers followed by esophagus (14%), lung (10%) and others. Dysphagia, growth/ulcer and pain were the chief indications for PRT. Pain was present in 93 (61%) cases out of which, 56 (60%) were referred to pain clinic. All except one consulted pain clinic with a median pain score of 8 (0-10 point scale). Fifty-three of these 56 patients (96%) received opioid-based treatment with adequate pain relief in 33% cases and loss of follow-up in 40% cases. Only five (3%) cases were referred to a hospice. Twenty-two (14%) cases were considered for radical treatment following excellent response to PRT. Conclusion: In this selective sample, the standard of analgesic treatment was found to be satisfactory. However, there is a lot of scope for improvement regarding referral to pain clinic and later to the hospice. Patients' follow-up needs to be improved along with future studies evaluating those patients who were considered for further RT till radical dose. Programs to change the patients' attitude towards palliative care, physicians' (residents') training to improve communication skills, and institutional policies may be promising strategies.






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