Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Supportive care in cancer Jan 2008 vol. 16, no. 1

Effect of hydromorphone on ventilation in palliative care patients with dyspnea.

p. 93-9
Clemens-Katri-Elina, Klaschik-Eberhard.
Author affiliation
Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine, Palliative Medicine and Pain Therapy, Malteser Hospital Bonn/Rhein-Sieg, Von- Hompesch-Strasse 1, Bonn, Germany.
GOALS: This study assessed the effect of hydromorphone treatment on ventilation and the intensity of dyspnea in palliative care patients. The assessments measured changes in peripheral oxygen saturation (SaO (2)), transcutaneous arterial pressure of carbon dioxide (tcpaCO(2)), respiratory rate (f), and pulse frequency (PF) during the titration phase with hydromorphone for symptomatic therapy of dyspnea. The aims of the study were to verify the efficacy of hydromorphone for the management of dyspnea and assess its effect on ventilation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fourteen patients admitted to our palliative care unit were included in this prospective, nonrandomized trial. At admission, all patients suffered from dyspnea. TcpaCO(2), SaO(2), and PF were measured transcutaneously by means of a SenTec Digital Monitor (Sen Tec AG, Switzerland). MAIN RESULTS: As early as 30 min after the first hydromorphone application, mean respiratory rate decreased from 38.8 +/- 4.9 breaths/min (range 30.0-45.0 breaths/min) to 34.6 +/- 4.2 breaths/min (29.0-41.0 breaths/min); after 120 min to 29.0 +/- 3.1 breaths/min (range 24.0-33.0 breaths/min) (p = 0.001). The other monitored respiratory parameter, however, showed no significant changes. A significant improvement was shown in the intensity of dyspnea (numeric rating scale 0-10: 5.2 +/- 1.5 (4-8)/6.4 +/- 2.1 (4-10) vs 1.1 +/- 0.9 (0-3)/2.3 +/- 1.3 (1-5); p = 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Neither was there a significant decrease in SaO(2) nor a significant increase in tcpaCO(2) after the initial hydromorphone application, i.e., there was no hydromorphone-induced respiratory depression. The first hydromorphone application, however, resulted in a significant decrease in the intensity of dyspnea and respiratory rate.

Palliative care needs of cancer outpatients receiving chemotherapy: an audit of a clinical screening project.

p. 101-7
Morita-Tatsuya, Fujimoto-Koji, Namba-Miki, Sasaki-Naoko, Ito-Tomoko, Yamada-Chika, Ohba-Arisa, Hiroyoshi-Motoki, Niwa-Hiroshi, Yamada- Takeshi, Noda-Tsuneo.
Author affiliation
Department of Palliative and Supportive Care, Palliative Care Team and Seirei Hospice, Seirei Mikatahara Hospital, 3453 Mikatabara-cho, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan.
PURPOSE: Although more and more cancer patients are receiving chemotherapy in outpatient settings in their advanced stage and could have a broad range of palliative care needs, referral to the specialized palliative care service is often delayed. The primary aim of this study is to explore the usefulness of a combined intervention for cancer patients in identifying patients with under-recognized palliative care needs and referring them to the specialized palliative care service. The intervention consisted of (1) introducing the specialized palliative care service when starting chemotherapy, (2) using screening tools, and (3) providing on-demand specialized palliative care service. MATERIALS AND METHODS: All cancer patients newly starting chemotherapy with primary tumor sites of the lung, gastrointestine, pancreas, bile duct, breast, ovary, and uterus were included. As routine practice, at the first instruction about chemotherapy, pharmacists provided information about the role of the specialized palliative care service using a pamphlet and handed out screening questionnaires. Screening questionnaires were distributed at every hospital visit. Treating physicians and/or nurses checked the questionnaire before examining the patients. The patients were referred to the palliative care team, if (1) the patients voluntarily wished for the specialized palliative care service or (2) the treating physicians clinically determined that, on the basis of the screening results, the patients had physical or psychological needs appropriate for referral to the specialized palliative care service. The screening questionnaire included an open-ended question about their greatest concerns, the severity of 11 physical symptoms, overall quality-of-life, the distress thermometer, help for information about the treatment and decision-making, economic problems, nutrition, daily activities, and wish for help from the specialized palliative care service. RESULTS: Of 211 patients who newly started chemotherapy, 5 patients refused to complete the questionnaire (compliance rate, 98%). We obtained 1,000 questionnaires from 206 patients. The percentages of missing values ranged from 2.7% to 7.0%. Of 206 patients, 38 (18%) were referred to the palliative care team due to newly recognized problems, in addition to 10 patients with problems well-recognized by primary physicians. The total percentage of patients receiving specialized palliative care service was thus 23% of all patients. Frequently identified problems were oral problems (20%), insomnia (20%), help with information and decision-making (16%), psychological distress defined as the distress thermometer (14%), severe fatigue (9.0%), and severe appetite loss (8.8%). As a whole, problems were identified in half of all questionnaires. CONCLUSION: The combined intervention of introducing the specialized palliative care service, using screening tools and providing on-demand specialized palliative care service, was feasible as part of the routine clinical practice for all cancer patients starting chemotherapy. It might be useful in identifying patients with under-recognized palliative care needs and referring them to the specialized palliative care service at the appropriate

Needs of developing the skills of palliative care at the oncology ward: an audit of symptoms among 203 consecutive cancer patients in Finland.

p. 3-8
Salminen-E, Clemens-K-E, Syrjaenen-K, Salmenoja-H.
Author affiliation
Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy, Turku University Hospital, P.O. Box 52, Savitehtaankatu 1, Turku, Finland. eeva.salminen
BACKGROUND: To clarify the prevalence and severity of the symptoms, 203 consecutive patients with breast, prostate and other cancers treated mainly for palliation were surveyed. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The series includes 116 men and 87 women with the mean age of 65 years (range 27-86 years). The patients filled-up the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) questionnaire with 11 items describing cancer-related symptoms in the visual analogue scale (VAS) . RESULTS: Altogether, 98% of the patients reported at least 1 of the 10 symptoms. There was a significant difference in the score frequencies between the 10 symptoms (p = 0.0001), fatigue receiving the highest frequency (50.8%) of the high scores. Fatigue was also the single most frequent symptom reported by 86.3% of the patients, followed by pain at effort (71.5%), sleeplessness (71.1%) and depression (59.0%). The most disturbing syndrome was pain (n = 48, 23.9%), followed by fatigue (n = 28, 13.9%), depression (9.5%) and dyspnoea (6.0%). Altogether, 75% had more than 5 symptoms and 10% reported all 10 symptoms. The total number of symptoms was not significantly associated with sex (p = 0.781) or age (p = 0.062), but it was associated with the diagnostic group; patients with breast cancer (n = 41) and those with prostate cancer (n = 44) reported fewer symptoms than the patients with other cancers (n = 116)(p = 0.023, Kruskal-Wallis). CONCLUSIONS: Symptoms related to cancer are common among patients treated with palliative indication, but if not specifically surveyed, may remain un-detected and un-treated. ESAS as a clinical tool brings more symptoms to the attention of the physicians and helps in getting a comprehensive insight into the patient's problems.

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