Shift in focus goes from 'end of life' to 'quality of life'

CONCORD - More than 175 people – from cancer survivors to health care professionals – attended the New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration's (NH CCC) day-long conference on March 21. This year, the NH CCC's 7th Annual Conference addressed quality-of-life issues ranging from patient-centered cancer treatment, to pain and distress management, and post-treatment support for survivors.

"We need to shift the dynamic to save lives and improve quality of life for survivors," said Rebecca Kirch, JD, Director of Quality of Life and Survivorship at the American Cancer Society.

Kirch was the first of 13 speakers and presenters at the Conference. She kicked off the event by explaining the importance of educating patients and providers about the benefits of palliative care and discussing quality-of-life issues early in the treatment process. She shared research that indicated that only 29 percent of people diagnosed with cancer are asked about quality-of-life issues by their health care providers.

"We want people to understand that palliative care is more than hospice care and there is a link between palliative care and survivorship," Kirch said.

Dr. Diana Dickson-Witmer, Vice-Chair of Commission on Cancer 2012 Standards Revision Committee, discussed the need to change to more patient-centered care: "If we do the right things, with the help of our partners, we can create better outcomes and reduce health care costs."

Other speakers and presenters addressed a variety of topics including the physical, psychosocial, spiritual, and financial impacts facing cancer survivors. A complete agenda and presentations from the conference can be found at www.NHCancerPlan.org.

About the New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration:

The New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration was established in 2004 to address one of the leading causes of death in New Hampshire. The NH CCC is a dedicated partnership of individuals and organizations committed to eliminating cancer in the state. The NH CCC developed the New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan to address the following priorities: preventing cancer by creating environments that support a healthy life style, increasing early detection of cancer through screening, improving the treatment of cancer and quality of life for people living with cancer, and reporting on the latest cancer research. For more information about the NH CCC and the NH Cancer Plan, visit www.NHCancerPlan.org.

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