Appropriate Assessment Tools May Improve Effectiveness of Mesothelioma Treatment
Determining the appropriate cancer treatment for a patient is a difficult and complex decision for patients and their oncologists. Finding the appropriate mesothelioma treatment is even more challenging due to the relative rarity of the disease. However, researchers at the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine now say that with better cancer care quality measurements, cancer care will improve.
In the 10th Biennial Regenstrief Institute Conference supplement to the December 2011 issue of the journal Medical Care, the researchers report “cancer care quality gaps and variation exist across both technical and patient-centered cancer quality measures, especially among vulnerable populations.”
The lead authors, David A. Haggstrom, M.D, Regenstrief Institute Investigator, and Brad Doebbeling, M.D., M.Sc., an IU School of Medicine professor of medicine, are hoping to guide the medical field toward personalized care, but without specific measurements, and effective tools, doctors will continue to treat patients according to the one-size-fits-all theory.
Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer of the lining of the lung and abdomen that has been directly linked to asbestos exposure. Treatment often includes chemotherapy and radiation, but researchers have recently begun focusing on patient-centric care with treatments targeting the patients’ unique characteristics. Personalized mesothelioma care optimizes the potential for success of the treatment.
Haggstrom said, “As physicians consider treatment options for prostate, lung, breast and other cancers, they and the health care systems where they practice need to develop better tools to assess and measure the individual patient’s values and preferences.”
The article asserts that moving “organizational accountability, reimbursement, and quality measurement” from individual episodes of care to multiple providers may address concerns of fragmented care.
The authors suggest that empowering the patient in the care is also critical. Discussing care options with the patient, such as whether to take an aggressive or conservative approach to treatment, and whether the patient wants to be an active participant in making decisions, can empower the patient and help the physician determine what cancer care is most appropriate for each individual. Some physicians agree that working with a patient that proactively manages his mesothelioma is the strongest weapon in fighting the disease and improving the patient’s outcome.
Haggstrom said, “We also propose applying new models of care to the problems of cancer, including accountable care to better coordinate the care delivered across multiple health care settings, as well as personal health records to deliver and collect medical information to and from patients. These new approaches may well positively disrupt how physicians and patients approach cancer care delivery.”
They conclude that “leadership and ongoing research to guide informed system changes will be necessary to transform the cancer care delivery system.”