The New Weapon Against Cancer – Increasing Quality of Life

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A double-blind placebo study, led by Dr. Nicos Nikolaou, and supported by the Fox Chase Medical Center, found that increasing the quality of a cancer patients’ life is the key to lowering patient morbidity. Besides biomedical assays, the study, titled Quality of Life (QoL) Supersedes the Classic Predictors of Survival in Locally Advanced Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), also employed a standardized survey. The questionnaire was aimed at accessing the patients’ quality of life. The researchers followed the progress of numerous cancer patients for 17 months. They concluded that an increased quality of life was medically critical for the cancer patients, and it greatly lowered their morbidity rate.

To asses improvements in the quality of life, investigators use the Quality of Life Questionnaire, termed QLQ-C30, proposed under the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer. To increase the quality of life of cancer patients, a Social Support Network (SSN) can be employed. An MSN (Micro Support Network) is an online social network. The support network is fully based around the cancer patient, called the Beneficiary. A support group of on-line volunteers, advisors, and advocates aid the patient in his or her challenge or obstacle. Because increasing the quality of life has a direct impact on lowering cancer patients’ morbidity, the support network seeks to increase the QLQ-C30 scores of the Beneficiaries. The support network also seeks to identify and minimize frustration and agitation, that is caused the Beneficiary’s personal obstacle or challenge. One of the goals of the support network is to manage the Beneficiary’s anxieties, that accompany his or her personal obstacle. The need to empower the Beneficiary, in terms of mobilization, is addressed by trained online volunteers, who can be mobilized to see to the necessary tasks. Educating the Beneficiary on the details of his or her condition or obstacle is a priority. Therefore, the support network ensures that the Beneficiary is able to access such information. All of these strategies increase the quality of life for the patient.

The support network can increase the quality of life by empowering the Beneficiary, and by surrounding the sufferer with trained individuals. These individuals have experienced, first hand, the challenges that the patient is going through. The network empowers the Beneficiary to create a guideline or template for him or herself, with help from others, that lays out a specific course of action. The support network provide continual assistance to the patients, so that they are confident about their course of action plans. At the same time, the network encourages Beneficiaries to share their personal experiences online, to help other cancer patients. These measures allow Beneficiaries to take an informed, engaged, and confident part in raising the quality of their lives. Other allowances include ensuring that the Beneficiary has access to volunteer compiled resources pertaining to the obstacle at hand, and a feedback system, which imbues the patient with a sense of control.

Speaking on the study, Dr. Movsas, the lead investigator, said “If a patient’s quality of life increased over time, we saw a corresponding increase in survival”. An increased quality of life is a critical predictor for overall survival in cancer patients. An increased quality of life dramatically lowers the morbidity rate in cancer patients, regardless of treatment.

Chris Ryan and Dr. Kevin Buckman