An award-winning researcher in the field of palliative care spoke recently about the need for greater understanding of what cancer patients go through, and his words had special meaning for those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and their loved ones.
Dr. Thomas W. LeBlanc, Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine recently received the 2018 EAPC Clinical Impact Award at the EAPC (European Association for Palliative Care) Word Research Congress. After being recognized, Dr. LeBlanc spoke to the experience faced by cancer patients and their families and what he has learned.
“I’m often surprised at how little we really understand about what our patients go through….. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what my patients are facing. But when we applied objective scales to this population, to assess symptoms, quality of life, and distress, and then interviewed many of these patients over time, I learned that things are often much worse than I had thought (and worse than my patients were willing to tell me.),” Dr. LeBlanc said.
“This has made it very clear to me that palliative care and patient experience research are sorely needed in medicine, particularly in cancer care and that there remain many opportunities to improve upon standard care practices in supporting patients and families through these difficult experiences.”
Palliative care is an essential part of the comprehensive treatment plan for patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Patients often have to determine immediately whether they want their primary focus to be curative or palliative, but eventually, all of them end up seeking pain relief and other supports designed to help them as they confront the most difficult aspects of the disease.
Speaking of what needs to be improved in palliative care, Dr. LeBlanc said, “I often think about how we can help patients and families better understand their medical situation, how we can improve our communication of complex information, and also how we can better support them emotionally as they attempt to cope with difficult news.”
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information about palliative care or other resources that will help you through the challenges of this disease, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.