Skeletal metastasis as a primary presentation of gall bladder carcinoma is rare. A 50-year-old lady presented with neck pain and weakness in her right upper limb of 3 months duration. Clinical and imaging work-up suggested locally advanced gall bladder carcinoma with metastasis to cervical vertebra and sternum. Only one case till date has been reported where the patient presented with neurological symptoms due to pathological fracture secondary to metastasis from an occult gall bladder carcinoma. Although rare, an occult gall bladder cancer may present with neurological symptoms due to pathological fracture of spine secondary to metastasis. We present a brief review of literature of patients who presented with skeletal metastases in clinically silent gall bladder malignancy. Palliative care issues in advanced gall bladder carcinoma have also been discussed.
Gall bladder carcinoma; Neurological symptoms; Skeletal metastases
An 83-year-old male presented with dyspnoea and stridor. He had undergone pneumonectomy 40 years ago. CT scan revealed gross shift of mediastinum (post-pneumonectomy syndrome) with tortuous trachea kinked at the thoracic inlet. Fibre optic bronchoscopy showed a near total expiratory closure of trachea, right main bronchus, and segmental bronchi confirming tracheobronchomalacia. He was managed with long length, low tracheostomy in view of his poor general condition of permitting more invasive procedures. He showed adequate clinical improvement and was discharged home. Tracheobronchomalacia in post-pneumonectomy syndrome requires emergent management. Its occurrence after 40 years is very rare and may be easily missed. It can be diagnosed with dynamic CT and FOB. Although invasive management with stenting or surgical methods is routinely advised, conservative care can be effective in selected cases.
Post-pneumonectomy; Post pneumonectomy syndrome; Stridor; Tacheobronchomalacia
Hyponatremia is quite common in cancer patients, but the presentation as persistent hiccups is not common. Literature over hiccups development due to hyponatremia is quite scant. Hiccups are of various types, persistent hiccups are those that last more than 48 h and remains less than 1 month. Hiccups lasting more than 24 h require investigation for an underlying organic etiology, with hyponatremia included in the differential diagnosis. This paper discusses a carcinoma lip patient presented with the persistent hiccups and unconsciousness post-operatively. The patient was initially responded with trials of both metoclopramide and Ryle's tube insertion, but eventually, his hiccups resolved only after treatment of hyponatremia. Patient's clinical course and investigations suggest an etiology of syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) secretion behind the hyponatremia. Study suggested that SIADH linked hyponatremia should be considered in the differential diagnosis of cancer patients with refractory hiccups.
Hiccups; Hyponatremia; Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone
Transdiaphragmatic approach to the pericardium through a subxiphoid incision is a safe, rapid, and effective way to obtain drainage of the pericardium fluid in patient of disseminated malignancy with recurrent cardiac tamponade. No drainage tubes are needed; pericardial fluid is absorbed by the peritoneum; there is no need for double lumen tubes for single lung ventilation and the subxiphoid incisions are small and almost painless.
Diaphragm; Malignancy; Palliative; Pericardial window techniques; Tamponade
Transition of a cancer patient from curative to palliative stage is one of the most difficult and challenging phases of cancer care both from patient and physician point of view. Most of the time the treating surgeons are expected to facilitate this transition but due to a number of reasons surgeons often fail to fulfill this crucial responsibility. This article highlights the various issues involved in the transition phase from a surgeons perspective.
Communication skills; Palliative care; Surgeon; Surgical curriculum; Transition zone
Organ transplantation is the most preferred treatment modality for end-stage organ diseases. The need for the transplants is higher than the availability. Prerequisites for the success of transplantation program include awareness and positive attitudes.
To assess the perceptions and attitudes of the people seeking health care in tertiary care centers towards organ donation in Mangalore, India.
Settings and Design:
This cross-sectional study included 863 people seeking general healthcare as outpatients.
Materials and Methods:
Face to face interviews were carried out using pretested tools which included the socio demographic data. Data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 11.5.
Overall, 59.6% participants showed the willingness to donate organs. Females (64.1%) and participants from upper socio economic status (62.7%) had higher willingness rates for organ donations. Hindus (63.6%) and Christians (63.3%) had higher willingness rates for organ donations than Muslims (38.2%). Also, 23.7% participants showed willingness to donate eyes and 33.6% wished to donate any organ after death. Most of the participants (67%) were aware that money should not be accepted for donating organs, and 58.1% were aware that it is an offence to accept any benefit for organ donations. Forty percent participants had perceived risks associated with organ donation. Regarding donor cards, 42.3% of the participants knew about it and 3.7% already possessed it.
It is apparent from the study that though there was high level of awareness about organ donation, a high proportion of the participants did not have positive attitudes towards organ donation.
Attitude; Awareness; Organ donation; Perceptions; South India
Distress is commonly seen in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. Causal factors of distress are multifactorial; which encompasses physical, psychological, spiritual, and existential factors with complex interrelationship among the factors.
Materials and Methods:
Thirty patients undergoing head and neck radiotherapy were included in the study. Patients were screened for pain scores, distress scores, physical and psychological symptoms, and spiritual and emotional distress.
Significant increasing trend seen for pain score, distress score, and total number of symptoms during 2nd week, 4th week, and on completion of radiotherapy treatment (all P's < 0.001) compared to pretreatment. Those who had chemotherapy (CT) along with radiation had significantly greater pain score (t = 5.54, P = 0.03) and distress score (t = 3.9, P = 0.05) at 2 weeks into radiotherapy compared to those who did not receive CT. There was significantly higher grade of skin toxicity in those with spiritual distress (Somers’ d = 0.36, P = 0.02) and higher grade of mucositis in those with existential distress (d = 0.34, P = 0.02) at 4 weeks into radiotherapy.
Positive correlation between distress score and pain score and occurrence of physical symptoms. Increasing trend seen for pain score, distress score, and total number of symptoms during 2nd week, 4th week, and completion of radiotherapy treatment compared to pretreatment. Increase in distress score in those with existential and spiritual distress.
Distress; Head and neck cancer; Radiotherapy
A novel, short duration, palliative radiotherapy schedule for inoperable head and neck cancer was evaluated in terms of palliation of cancer-related symptoms and acute toxicities.
Materials and Methods:
Thirty-six patients with inoperable head and neck cancer were included in the study (2010-2012). All patients received 40 Gy in 10 fractions (equivalent dose: 49.8 Gy in conventional fractionation) with 2 fractions per week. Treatment-related toxicity was assessed using Radiation Therapy Oncology Group criteria. Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (Head and Neck, FACT H and N) quality of life (QOL) tool was administered before starting and at the completion of radiotherapy. Mean value before and after treatment was compared (paired t-test, P = 0.05, two-tailed for significance).
Thirty-three patients (male: 29, female: 4, mean age: 57.8 ± 9.7 years) were included in the analysis (three patients discontinued treatment due to socioeconomic reasons). All patients had advanced inoperable head and neck cancers (27% IVA, 61% IVB, 9% IVC, TNM stage and 3% recurrent disease). Distressing pain at primary site (42%), dysphagia (18%), neck swelling (30%), and hoarseness (10%) were common presentations. Incidence of grade III mucositis and dermatitis and pain was 18%, 3%, and 24%, respectively. Planned radiotherapy without any interruptions was completed by 73% patients. QOL assessment showed improvement in social well-being (17.4 vs. 20.01, P = 0.03), but no significant change was observed in head and neck specific score (25.1 vs. 25.0, P = NS) after treatment. Reduction of pain was observed in 88% patients and 60% patients had improvement of performance status. Median overall survival of the cohort was 7 months.
The study shows that this short duration palliative radiotherapy schedule is a clinically viable option for advanced inoperable head and neck cancer to achieve significant palliation of the main presenting symptoms like pain, dysphagia, and throat pain.
Cancer pain; Hypofractionated radiotherapy; Inoperable head and neck cancer; Palliative radiotherapy
Spiritual concerns are being identified as important components of palliative care. The aim of this study was to explore the nature of spiritual concerns in cancer patients undergoing palliative care in a hospice in India.
Materials and Methods:
The methodology used was a qualitative method: Interpretive phenomenological analysis. A semi-structured interview guide was used to collect data, based on Indian and western literature reports. Certain aspects like karma and pooja, relevant to Hindus, were included. Theme saturation was achieved on interviewing 10 participants.
The seven most common spiritual concerns reported were benefit of pooja, faith in God, concern about the future, concept of rebirth, acceptance of one's situation, belief in karma, and the question Why me? No participant expressed four of the concerns studied: Loneliness, need of seeking forgiveness from others, not being remembered later, and religious struggle.
This study confirms that there are spiritual concerns reported by patients receiving palliative care. The qualitative descriptions give a good idea about these experiences, and how patients deal with them. The study indicates the need for adequate attention to spiritual aspects during palliative care.
Cancer patients; Hindu; Karma; Palliative care; Qualitative study; Spirituality; Spiritual concerns
Simultaneous double cancers in the biliary system are rare. Most are associated with pancreaticobiliary maljunction (PBM). However, it can occur in patients without PBM. Differentiation between these events is important since these two mechanistic origins imply different stages of disease, as well as different subsequent treatments and prognoses. Herein, we report a case of ampullary carcinoma associated with gall bladder carcinoma diagnosed nonoperatively and palliated with biliary metal stenting.
Ampulla of vater; Double cancer; Extrahepatic biliary obstruction; Gall bladder carcinoma; Periampullary growth
The field of pain medicine that once began as a supportive and compassionate care, adding value to the management of acute and chronic ailments, has now transformed into a vital and essential specialty with structured training programs and service units with professionals dedicating their careers to it. The expansion of understanding of the direct relationship of pain relief to the quality of life, uncovering of neuronal pathways, and technological advances in imaging as well as in interventional techniques have all contributed to this phenomenal growth. However, there is a growing concern whether the training programs and the specialized practitioners are gradually limiting their skilled inputs primarily within the sensory realm of the pain experience with sophisticated interventional techniques and relegating its subjective and emotional dimensions to perfunctory realms within the schema of service provision. While the specialty is still young, if we can understand the inherent aspect of these dimensions within the pain experience and acknowledge the gaps in service provision, it may be possible to champion development of truly comprehensive pain relief programs that responds effectively and ethically to a patient's felt needs. This article attempts to position the subjectivity of pain experience in context and surface the need to design complete systems of pain relief services inclusive of this dimension. It presents authors’ review of literature on perspectives of ‘unpleasant subjective emotional experiencing of the pain” to elucidate possible clinical implications based on the evidences presented on neuro-biology and neuro-psychology of the pain experience; the aim being to inspire systems of care where this dimension is sufficiently evaluated and managed.
Emotional; Experience; Pain; Subjective
The high incidence of fatal diseases, inequitable access to health care, and socioeconomic disparities in India generate plentiful clinical bad news including diagnosis of a life-limiting disease, poor prognosis, treatment failure, and impending death. These contexts compel health care professionals to become the messengers of bad news to patients and their families. In global literature on breaking bad news, there is very little about such complex clinical interactions occurring in India or guiding health care providers to do it well. The purpose of this article is to identify the issues for future research that would contribute to the volume, comprehensiveness, and quality of empirical literature on breaking bad news in clinical settings across India. Towards this end, we have synthesized the studies done across the globe on breaking bad news, under four themes: (a) deciding the amount of bad news to deliver; (b) attending to cultural and ethical issues; (c) managing psychological distress; and (d) producing competent messengers of bad news. We believe that robust research is inevitable to build an indigenous knowledge base, enhance communicative competence among health care professionals, and thereby to improve the quality of clinical interactions in India.
Breaking bad news; Clinical communication; Life-limiting disease; Patient care in India; Truth telling
Development of palliative care (PC) culture spur the need of proper and formal training. Palliative medicine is not fully recognized as an academic medical discipline due to its humanistic influences, and studies show that physicians declare to be not prepared to provide care and pain management to dying patients. Nowadays, despite leading countries in PC being considered more innovative than other countries,such as Italy, facts show that the achievement of acknowledged discipline went through a long process. In Italy,professionals from about 450 PC units and organizations need to receive a proper and homogeneous training. In Italy, palliative medicine official certification is an undergoing process advocated by a few organizations and in Bologna the Academy of the Sciences of Palliative Medicine operates since 2007 with the defined mission of developing PC culture, also within the University. In order to be as much effective in pursuing its mission, the Academy has strengthened several international cooperation programs and today is leader in PC professional training and research in Italy. The recent law and its feasibility is fastening the process of development of Palliative Care Culture in Italy even if training is not properly regulated and official certification for physician is under evaluation. In Europe, the European Association of Palliative Care is stressing the need for training programs in palliative medicine and the outcomes of the dedicated task force on official certification and specialty in Palliative Medicine will remarkably force policy makers and national councils to officially recognize the discipline.
Cultural development; Hospice; Palliative care; Palliative medicine; Training
Mechanism-based classification (MBC) was established with current evidence and physical therapy (PT) management methods for both cancer and for noncancer pain.
This study aims to describe the efficacy of MBC-based PT in persons with primary complaints of cancer pain.
Settings and Design:
A prospective case series of patients who attended the physiotherapy department of a multispecialty university-affiliated teaching hospital.
Material and Methods:
A total of 24 adults (18 female, 6 male) aged 47.5 ± 10.6 years, with primary diagnosis of heterogeneous group of cancer, chief complaints of chronic disabling pain were included in the study on their consent for participation The patients were evaluated and classified on the basis of five predominant mechanisms for pain. Physical therapy interventions were recommended based on mechanisms identified and home program was prescribed with a patient log to ensure compliance. Treatments were given in five consecutive weekly sessions for five weeks each of 30 min duration.
Statistical Analysis Used:
Pre–post comparisons for pain severity (PS) and pain interference (PI) subscales of Brief pain inventory-Cancer pain (BPI-CP) and, European organization for research and treatment in cancer-quality of life questionnaire (EORTC-QLQ-C30) were done using Wilcoxon signed-rank test at 95% confidence interval using SPSS for Windows version 16.0 (SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL).
There were statistically significant (P < 0.05) reduction in pain severity, pain interference and total BPI-CP scores, and the EORTC-QLQ-C30.
MBC-PT was effective for improving BPI-CP and EORTC-QLQ-C30 scores in people with cancer pain.
Cancer pain; Pain mechanisms; Palliative care; Physical therapy
The psychological stress after diagnosis of breast cancer is often severe. Most of the women with breast cancer and their families suffer from emotional, social, financial and psychological disturbances.
Materials and Methods:
A cluster non-randomized trial was conducted at a Cancer Society in Melaka, Malaysia to assess the effectiveness of psycho-education on well-being status and depression among breast cancer patients. The study period was for one month (11th June 2011 and 16th July 2011). Participants in this study were 34 adult women suffering from non-metastatic breast cancer and on appropriate allopathic medication. The WHO-five Well-being Index (1998 version) was used as the screening instrument for the assessment of well-being and depression. The data collected were tabulated and analyzed by using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 11.0. Wilcoxon Signed-rank Test was applied for comparison between pre-test and post-test scores. A P value <0.05 was considered as statistically significant.
This study revealed that majority of the participants was in the state of adequate well-being after the psycho-education 33 (97.1%). The proportion of depressed individuals had also reduced from 8 (23.5%) to 1 (2.9%) after the psychological intervention. The post-test results significantly improved after the intervention for the items related to “I have felt calm and relaxed”, “I woke up feeling fresh and rested” and “my daily life has been filled with things that interest me” along with the “overall impression” in the WHO-5 Well-being Index.
Group psycho-education played a significant role in improving the well-being status and reducing depression of breast cancer survivors.
Breast; Cancer; Depression; Group; Psychological; Survivors; Therapy; Well-being
Patients with advanced cancer often suffer from multiple refractory symptoms in the terminal phase of their life. Palliative sedation is one of the few ways to relieve this refractory suffering.
This systematic review investigated the effect of palliative sedation on survival time in terminally ill cancer patients.
Materials and Methods:
Six electronic databases were searched for both prospective and retrospective studies which evaluated the effect of palliative sedation on survival time. Only those studies which had a comparison group that did not receive palliative sedation were selected for the review. Abstracts of all retrieved studies were screened to include the most relevant studies and only studies which met inclusion criteria were selected. References of all retrieved studies were also screened for relevant studies. Selected studies were assessed for quality and data extraction was done using the structured data extraction form.
Eleven studies including four prospective and seven retrospective studies were identified. Mean survival time (MST) was measured as the time from last admission until death. A careful analysis of the results of all the 11 studies indicated that MST of sedated and non-sedated group was not statistically different in any of the studies.
This systematic review supports the fact that palliative sedation does not shorten survival in terminally ill cancer patients. However, this conclusion needs to be taken with consideration of the methodology, study design, and the population studied of the included studies in this review.
Intractable symptoms; Palliative sedation; Survival time; Terminally ill
Gefitinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitor, represents a new treatment option for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We analyzed the data of patients who received Gefitinib for NSCLC in a tertiary care center in South India.
Materials and Methods:
Sixty-three patients with advanced NSCLC who had received Gefitinib either after failure of conventional chemotherapy or were previously not treated as they were unfit or unwilling for conventional treatment were included in the analysis.
The median follow-up for the cohort was 311 days (range 11-1544 days). Median time to progression was 161 (range 9-883) days. Complete and partial remission was seen in 1 (2%) and 6 (9%) patients, respectively, with overall response rate of 11%. Twenty-four (38%) patients had stable disease. Gefitinib was well tolerated with no significant side effects.
Gefitinib shows anti-tumor activity in pretreated or previously untreated patients with advanced NSCLC. It has a favorable toxicity profile and is well tolerated. Gefitinib should be considered as a viable therapy in patients with NSCLC.
Epidermal growth factor-tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Gefitinib; Non-small-cell lung cancer
A way to assess compliance with analgesics in an outpatient palliative care clinic is essential since often the patient is too ill or weak to come to hospital for weekly follow-ups. A pilot study was conducted using Short Messaging Service via mobile phone as a follow-up tool.
A predominantly outpatient palliative care clinic of a 300 bedded multidisciplinary hospital.
Materials and Methods:
Sixty patients attending the palliative care clinic were enrolled in the study. Analgesic drugs, co-analgesics, and adjuvants were prescribed on an outpatient basis. If possible, patients were admitted for 1 or 2 days. A simple scoring system was devised and taught to the patients and their attenders. A short message service had to be sent to the author's mobile number. The period was fixed at 2 weeks by which the patients and attenders were familiar with the drugs and pain relief as well. Drowsiness was a worrisome complaint. The mobile number of the patient was called and attender instructed to skip one or two doses of morphine and reassurance given. If required, attender was asked to bring patient to the hospital or come to the hospital for a different prescription as the situation warranted.
Out of 60 patients, 22 were admitted initially for dose titration and all others were outpatients. Three patients were lost to follow-up and one patient died after 7 days. 93% of patients responded promptly. Random survey was done in 10 patients to confirm their SMS response and the results were analyzed.
Mobile phones are available with all strata of people. It is easy to train patients to send an SMS. This technology can be used to follow- up palliative care patients and help them comply with their treatment regimen.
Follow-up; Mobile phone; Outpatient; Palliative care clinic