Improving Palliative Care and Quality of Life in Pancreatic Cancer Patients

Vincent Chung, Virginia Sun, Nora Ruel, Thomas J. Smith, Betty R. Ferrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pancreatic cancer patients often present with complications, which can impact treatment tolerance. Thus, symptom management is a vital component of treatment in addition to traditional chemotherapeutics. Concurrent palliative care with an emphasis on aggressive symptom management may sustain both clinical and patient-centered outcomes during treatment. The purpose of this article is to explore the impact of a concurrent palliative care intervention in patients with pancreatic cancer treated on phase I clinical trials. Materials and Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded randomized trial of an advanced practice nurse driven palliative care intervention for solid tumor patients treated on phase I clinical trials. Only pancreatic cancer patients were included in the analysis. Patients received two educational sessions around the quality of life (QOL) domains and completed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G), patient-reported outcomes version of the common terminology criteria for adverse events (PRO-CTCAE), and the psychological distress thermometer at baseline, 4 and 12 weeks. Mixed model with repeated measures analysis was used to explore outcomes by study arm. Results: Of the 479 patients accrued to the study, 42 were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (26 intervention, 16 usual care). A trend toward improvement in the physical, social, emotional, and functional FACT-G QOL subscales and psychological distress (baseline to 12 weeks) were observed for the intervention arm. Patients reported moderate severity in psychological and physical stress. Conclusions: In this secondary analysis, a nurse-led palliative care intervention may improve the QOL and psychological distress of pancreatic cancer patients. A phase III trial focused on patients with pancreatic cancer is needed to determine the effectiveness of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-727
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • palliative care
  • pancreatic cancer
  • quality of life
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • General Nursing


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