Quality of Life and Survivorship for Patients With Cancer

Northwestern Medicine
Cancer Care/Oncology October 22, 2012
Northwestern Medicine doctor provides advise to a cancer patientLiving with a diagnosis of cancer can have a profound effect on a patient’s quality of life. With advances in early detection, minimally invasive diagnostic procedures, individualized therapies, innovative research and supportive care, collaborative work between Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University is achieving significant enhancements in survival and quality of life.

The Lurie Cancer Center’s Supportive Oncology Program offers psychological, rehabilitation, integrative medicine, palliative care and nutrition services to all patients undergoing cancer treatment, while research efforts include studies that measure quality of life during treatment.

The gathering and reporting of clinical trials data allows physicians and researchers both at Northwestern and beyond “to compare treatments to one another in terms of the impact on a patient’s symptoms and the ability to function well and carry on everyday activities,” says David Cella, PhD, professor and chair in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at Feinberg and an expert on the psychosocial aspects of cancer survivorship. Quality of life results are reported in scientific literature and become a part of cancer treatment guidelines.

Developing better measures of symptoms during treatment, which may include fatigue, nausea, pain and anxiety, also is ongoing here. In one research project, Dr. Cella’s team regularly asks patients a list of questions about their symptoms.

“We can generate a report on symptoms,” says Dr. Cella. “When the physician sees you at your next appointment, he can talk with you about the symptom data too.” The goal is to make the collection and reporting of symptoms a part of routine care for patients here.

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