“Therapeutic trials are very, very important because thanks to them, our patients are living longer,” said Dr. Narjust Duma. “But (physicians) also need to stop and ask how our patients are living.”
When a person hears they have cancer, their first immediate thought likely revolves around surviving the disease. But once a patient’s disease is in remission, the focus then shifts toward living.
“Therapeutic trials are very, very important because thanks to them, our patients are living longer,” said Dr. Narjust Duma, a thoracic oncologist at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, in an interview with CURE®. “But we also need to stop and ask how our patients are living.”
Duma, who recently spoke with CURE® about the Sexual Health Assessment in Women with Lung Cancer (SHAWL) study, discussed why it is important for more research to be conducted to assess the quality-of-life of patients with cancer.
I think it's extremely important. Therapeutic trials are very, very important because thanks to them, our patients are living longer. But we also need to stop and ask how our patients are living. Yes, they may be here with us longer, but are they spending more time at home and less time in the hospital? Are they spending more time with their grandchildren, which is one of the things I hear very often from my patients, which is what you want to do? I want to spend time with my grandchildren, or with my kids. So, that is all important because surviving lung cancer is not only seeing the tumors shrinking, it's also that you're able to do the things you want to do when you are receiving the treatment that's making the tumor shrink.
And I also have conversations with my patients in which we decide stopping treatment to preserve the quality of life or completing treatment that can potentially prolong their life. Many of them prefer to stop treatment to maintain their quality of life. So, you can see how this is so important to our patients, that knowing that they may stay around for less time — a week, a month or two — they prefer to stop cancer-directed therapy to maintain their quality of life. That's what our patients are telling us, which is why this subject is so important. Because it affects them every day, they don't see (the oncologist) every day, but they have to deal with the symptoms and the side effects every day.