Supporting Lung Cancer Patients | Be An Advocate
In one of our past posts during our Real People, Real Lung Cancer Stories series, we featured Barbara, who lost her first husband Erwin and her younger sister Laurie to the disease.
Barbara has learned a lot throughout her time helping loved ones who have the disease. One of the most important things she learned, she said, was to be an advocate for the patient.
“Everybody needs to have somebody that can observe and ask questions and be a witness, “she says. “One of my biggest roles was being a witness. If somebody is there when meds are given or there are changes in procedures, it helps. . . . The patient often isn’t aware because he’s in pain or under the influence of pain-killing drugs. Somebody needs to be there.”
A new study has given even more importance to Barbara’s belief. According to the study results presented at the 2012 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology, married patients with locally advanced non–small cell lung cancer were likely to survive longer after treatment than patients who were single.
An excerpt from the article is below:
Prior studies have demonstrated decreased survival for single men diagnosed with numerous types of cancer, including prostate and head-and-neck cancers. In addition, a 2011 study of 440,000 Norwegian patients reported that men who never married were 35% more likely to die of cancer than married men, whereas never-married women were 22% more likely to die of cancer than married women.
To evaluate whether marital status represented an independent predictor of outcomes for patients with NSCLC treated with definitive chemotherapy and radiation, Elizabeth Nichols, MD, a radiation oncology resident at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, and colleagues studied 168 patients with stage III NSCLC from 2000 to 2010.
All patients were assessed by a multidisciplinary team before treatment and underwent standard work-up. In addition, all patients received definitive doses of radiation therapy with a median dose of 66.6 Gy.
Chemotherapy was administered along with radiation in 89% of patients, with weekly carboplatin/paclitaxel reported as the most common regimen. After concurrent therapy, patients received two cycles of systemic or consolidative doses of chemotherapy, if carboplatin/paclitaxel was utilized.
According to the study results, married patients exhibited improved survival, with 3-year rates of 33% vs. 10% in single patients (P<.001), and men (35%) demonstrated inferior survival compared with women (13%; P=.004).
“Marital status appears to be an important independent predictor of survival in patients with locally advanced non–small cell lung cancer,” Nichols said in a press release. “The reason for this is unclear, but our findings suggest the importance of social support in managing and treating our lung cancer patients. Patients may need help with day-to-day activities, getting to treatment and making sure they receive proper follow-up care.”
Though this study focused on married versus single patients, it is easy to think that similar love and support could come from other loved ones – family members, friends, anyone who can provide comfort and care during their time of need. Even something as simple as a kind gesture or an ear to listen can mean the world to someone.
According to the American Cancer Society, the best defense against cancer is early detection. Because of this, we need to join together to raise more awareness about lung cancer. People should be aware of lung cancer symptoms, as well as the magnitude of the disease. More awareness could lead to more funding, and more money for lung cancer research—something that is desperately needed.
To learn more about Oncimmune’s EarlyCDT-Lung, the blood test to aid in the early detection of lung cancer, please visit www.HelloHaveYouHeard.com. The test is covered by Medicare Part B and all private insurance companies (Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Humana, Aetna, etc.). Since its commercial release in 2009, EarlyCDT-Lung has aided in the early detection of numerous cases of lung cancer. Since its release in 2009, EarlyCDT-Lung is currently being used by hundreds of doctors and thousands of patients across the United States.
If you think you or a loved one may be at risk for lung cancer, visit our lung cancer risk assessment to see if you are at an increased risk for the deadly disease.