Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The importance of palliative care in urology.

The importance of palliative care in urology.
Urologia internationalis 2008 (epub: 18 Jan 2008), vol. 80, no. 1, p. 13-8
Brierly-Robert-D, O-Brien-Tim-S.
INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to identify patients with advanced urological cancer who may benefit from specialist palliative care and to quantify the number of these patients, characterize their problems and to see if their needs were being met. METHODS: The study was divided into two parts over 4-month periods centred on a hospital trust in the UK with a catchment population of 850,000. Urology in- patients were observed prospectively and out-patients were observed retrospectively. Patients were included if they had unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic urological cancer. Patients with prostate cancer were included if they had advanced disease with hormone relapse, defined as three successive rises in PSA. RESULTS: 881 admissions to the urology ward were reviewed. A total of 24 patients with terminal malignancy had 27 admissions. Two patients died during their admission. The average length of stay was 16.6 days. Only 5 patients underwent surgical intervention. The majority of patients had general systemic symptoms of advanced malignancy. 2,482 out-patient visits were reviewed where 69 patients with terminal malignancy received 82 outpatient consultations, representing approximately 10% of all cancer visits. Seventy-five percent of the patients had specific problems or were generally unwell as a result of their disease and would have benefited from specialist palliative care. The remaining 25% were well at the time of their visit, but potential psychosocial problems arising from coping with advancing terminal disease were not addressed. CONCLUSION: Patients requiring palliative care place a heavy burden on in- and out-patient services. There is a case for a palliative care physician to be closely involved in urological cancer teams. Urologists need to be trained in palliative care, as this comprises a significant volume of their work.

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