PURPOSE: Early palliative care is beneficial in advanced lung cancer patients. We aimed to assess the feasibility of introducing early palliative care in ambulatory advanced lung cancer patients in an Indian tertiary cancer center.
METHODOLOGY: In a longitudinal, single-arm, and single-center study, fifty patients were recruited and followed up every 3-4 weeks for 6 months, measuring the symptom burden using Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and quality of life (QoL) with European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer-QoL tools. The primary end point of feasibility was that at least 60% of the patients should complete 50% of the planned palliative care visits and over 50% of the patients should complete QoL questionnaires. Analysis was done using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 20.
RESULTS: Twenty-four of fifty patients (48%) completed the planned follow-up visits. All patients completed the questionnaires at baseline and 31 (62%) at their follow-up visits. The patients' main reasons for not following up in the hospital palliative care clinic were logistics and fatigue. Tiredness, pain, and appetite loss were the highest rated symptoms at baseline (ESAS scores 3, 2.2, and 2.1, respectively). Improvement in pain and anxiety scores at follow-up visits 1 and 2 was significant (P < 0.05). Scores on QoL functioning scales improved during the follow-up period.
CONCLUSIONS: We did not meet the feasibility criteria for the introduction of early palliative care in our advanced lung cancer patients in a resource-limited country.