January - March 2001: 
Volume 14, Issue 1

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Problems and care needs of lung cancer patients: experience in private practice
Aim of the study was to document the problems and care needs of a group of lung cancer patients attending a private pulmonary practice with a special interest in palliative care. The records of 58 patients (53 men, median age 65 years, range 22-87 years) with primary (46) or metastatic (12) lung malignancies, were examined. Clinical problems, medications and additional therapeutic modalities used, as well as requirements for consultations and admissions were tabulated for each patient. The mean number of problems per patient was 6 (range 1-11). The most frequent were various types of pain, cough, dyspnoea, anorexia-cachexia, fever and haemoptyses. On average, patients used more than 3 kinds of drugs (range 1-10) and the most commonly used were corticosteroids, Η2-receptor antagonists, antibiotics and vitamins. Thirty four patients required additional interventions (e.g. palliative radiotherapy or frequent chest aspirations). The burden of care was born by spouses (32) and children (16). Thirty patients required 2-4 visits, and 13 patients more than 10 visits. Forty five patients spent most of their illness at home, and 34 died there. During the terminal stage there was a frequent need for relief admissions for palliative interventions, cerebral metastases, respiratory distress or poor general condition. In conclusion, lung cancer patients face a large number of problems, use many drugs and need frequent medical visits and interventions. The burden of their care is born mostly by members of their families. Their management requires specialised knowledge and cooperation of various specialities, both in hospital and in the community. Pneumon 2001, 14 (1): 51-60