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Surgeon-palliative care comanagement in upper GI cancer doesn’t add significant benefit

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Integration of palliative care into cancer care for patients pursuing curative-intent surgeries for upper GI cancers may not offer significant benefits, according to a study.

The study included 359 patients who were randomly assigned to either surgeon-palliative care comanagement (n = 182) or surgeon-alone management (n = 177). Patients in the comanagement group received palliative care consultations before surgery; 1 week after surgery; and at 1, 2, and 3 months after surgery. Surgeons in the surgeon-alone group were encouraged to follow the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s recommendations for palliative care consultations.

The primary outcome measured was patient-reported health-related quality of life three months after the operation, while secondary outcomes included patient-reported mental and physical distress.

The results of the trial showed that there was no significant difference in patient-reported health-related quality of life, mental health, or the overall number of between the surgeon-palliative care comanagement group and the surgeon-alone group at the 3-month follow-up. No adverse events were associated with the intervention.

These findings challenge previous observations made in medical oncology practice, which have shown improvements in patient-reported outcomes with the involvement of palliative care specialists, the authors concluded.

Aslakson RA, Rickerson E, Fahy B, et al. Effect of Perioperative Palliative Care on Health-Related Quality of Life Among Patients Undergoing Surgery for Cancer: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(5):e2314660. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.14660. PMID: 37256623; PMCID: PMC10233417.