The National Cancer Institute has awarded City of Hope a five-year, $11.4 million program project research grant to develop a national model of complete care for lung cancer patients, from managing symptoms to supporting their families.
More than 219,000 people in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed this year with lung cancer, one of the most difficult cancers to treat.
“The project has great significance to public health given the significant numbers of people diagnosed with lung cancer and the associated individual and societal costs,” said Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N., principal investigator on the P01 grant and professor in the Division of Nursing Research and Education.
|Betty Ferrell, center, reviews research plans with Robert Figlin and Marianna Koczywas. (Photo by p.cunningham)|
“Lung cancer has one of the highest morbidity and mortality rates, and tremendous symptom and quality-of-life concerns,” said Ferrell. “Patients’ needs are enormous.”
This interdisciplinary study will assess the physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs of early and late-stage lung cancer patients and how health-care professionals can best address them. “Advanced practice nurses will be working closely with physicians and the interdisciplinary team to develop a plan of care that incorporates attention to each of these four dimensions,” said Ferrell.
“Our same City of Hope staff who are aggressively treating lung cancers through radiation, surgery and chemotherapy also are committed to improving the quality of these patients’ lives,” she added.
The team will explore how to better control patients’ pain, manage symptoms like breathing difficulties and poor appetite, and deal with their depression and anxiety. They also will explore whether religious beliefs and a sense of hope may help quality-of-life concerns during treatment.
A unique part of the grant — the family caregivers study — will address the financial and emotional burdens the disease places on patients and their families. Patients’ family members are often neglected during treatment, but they play a critical part in caregiving, researchers said. They may be sleep-deprived, anxious and depressed and have trouble coping with the worries about the future, finances and spiritual questions.
“We’ll be developing interventions in how to best support the family,” Ferrell said. “Family caregivers need information about assisting the patient with symptoms and other care issues as well as support in meeting their own needs.”
Marcia Grant, D.N.Sc., R.N., director and professor in the Division of Nursing Research and Education, will oversee the family caregiver project in the study. The early stage lung cancer project will be overseen by Kemp Kernstine, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program and chief of thoracic surgery, and Frederic Grannis, M.D., associate clinical professor of surgery.
The late-stage lung cancer project will be overseen by Robert Figlin, M.D., Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan Professor of Medical Oncology, and Marianna Koczywas, M.D., assistant professor of medical oncology.
Since most lung cancer patients are over 60 years old, the study also represents an opportunity to examine geriatric oncology issues, an effort that will be led by Arti Hurria, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Cancer and Aging Research Program.