The effect of systematic early integration of palliative care on quality of life in advanced cancer: a randomized controlled trial
Studies suggest that palliative care should be provided early in the disease trajectory to have an effect on the quality of life of cancer patients. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of systematic early integration of palliative care in standard oncology care in Flanders, Belgium.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines palliative care (PC) as an approach to improve the quality of life of patients facing life-threatening illness, through prevention and relief of pain and of physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems. PC is traditionally offered late in the course of the incurable illness, e.g. when death is imminent. Studies suggest that PC should be provided early in the disease trajectory to have meaningful effects on the quality of life and quality of care in the final phase of life. The aim of this study is to perform a randomized controlled trial, situated in Flanders, Belgium, that evaluates the effect of systematic early integration of palliative care in standard oncology care.
A randomized controlled trial will be conducted, 159 patients with advanced cancer will be recruited from different oncology departments of Ghent University Hospital, one of the largest university hospitals in Belgium. This trial randomizes patients to systematic early integration of palliative care in standard oncology care or standard oncology care alone. Patients and informal caregivers will fill out questionnaires of regarding quality of life. Other outcome measures are end-of-life care decisions and overall survival.
This trial will be the first randomized controlled trial in the Belgian health care setting to evaluate the effect of systematic early integration of palliative care for advanced cancer patients. It is hypothesized that patients with advanced cancer who receive systematic integration of PC, in combination with standard oncology care, early after diagnosis will have a better health-related quality of life than patients who receive standard oncology care alone.
Department of Medical Oncology and Palliative Care (Prof. S Van Belle)
Department of Gastroenterology, unit Digestive Oncology (Prof. K Geboes)
The unit of Thoracic Oncology of the department of Internal Medicine of the Ghent University (Prof. V Surmont)
The Palliative Support Team of the Ghent University Hospital (Dr. M De Laat)