Study Supports Palliative Care for Cancer Patients

Kavita Dharmarajan, MD, M.Sc

Kavita Dharmarajan, MD, M.Sc

Advanced-stage cancer patients who received palliative care required shorter durations of radiation treatment and had shorter hospital stays, according to a recent study at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“Radiation therapy is very effective at relieving pain, but the standard two weeks of treatment may be too long or burdensome for some patients, given the state of their illnesses,” says the study’s senior author, Kavita Dharmarajan, MD, M.Sc, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, and Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We showed that shorter course treatments can be equally, if not more, effective, especially when combined with other forms of therapy that put patients first, and not the tumor.” Read more

Noted Surgeon, Writer Delivers Lecture on “Being Mortal”

Before a capacity audience in Stern Auditorium that included faculty, staff, students, and the public, Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, noted surgeon, writer, and public health researcher, recently presented a professional overview—yet highly personalized account—of modern medicine’s impact on how we age, and die, in the twenty-first century. His speech, titled “Being Mortal,” based on his book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, was delivered as the 2015 Annual Douglas West Memorial Lecture, an event sponsored by Mount Sinai’s Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute. Read more

“Not Allowed to Die”

The New York Times article noted: “Although most of us claim no desire to die with a tube down our throat and on a ventilator, the fact is, as Katy Butler reminds us in “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” a fifth of American deaths now take place in intensive care, where 10 days of futile flailing can cost as much as $323,000… .” Read more

Palliative Care Explained

A Cancer Today article noted: “Originating from the Latin word pallium, meaning ‘a cloak,’ palliative care offers relief from the symptoms and stresses of cancer. It’s not a replacement for therapies like chemotherapy, radiation or surgery that treat the illness. Instead, it’s a companion therapy.”

“For someone with a serious condition that affects quality of life, ‘if you want the best care possible and you’re getting cancer care without palliative care, then you’re not getting the best care,’ says Diane Meier, a geriatrician and palliative care specialist who directs the Center to Advance Palliative Care.” Read more