McMasters Gives Moving Speech on Palliative ‘Treatment’ vs ‘Care’

In a moving speech on the difference between patient palliative “treatment” and palliative “care,” Kelly McMasters, M.D., Ph.D., gave the keynote lecture at the January meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.
McMasters is the Ben A. Reid Sr., M.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery and serves as Director of the Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinic and as an Associate Director of the JGBCC.
In his keynote address, entitled “The Fundamental Difference Between Palliative Treatment and Palliative Care,” McMasters noted that the audience was filled with those who have devoted their lives to the care of patients with cancer, and will perform research that will relieve suffering, improve quality of life, extend survival and find a cure.
Using one of his patients as an example, he argued that while regular tests and treatments make sense for patients whose cancer can be cured or their lives extended (with good quality), for those with recurring cancer who will eventually die from the disease, there is no evidence early detection of asymptomatic recurrence is any better than waiting until they are symptomatic. For those patients, regular tests and treatments can rob them of their quality of life.
“Our duty to our patients is to care for them, not just for their disease, but for who they are,” McMasters said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to put the patient through treatments and tests that, in the end, won’t affect whether they live or die. They are often better served by living free of pain and suffering, happily in the company of those they love, doing the things that make life worth living.”
McMasters has personal experience of losing a loved one to cancer – he lost his son, Owen, to leukemia.
At the JGBCC, McMasters – who specializes in melanoma, breast cancer, sarcoma, hepatobiliary tumors and pancreatic and gastric cancers – works to identify the most effective combination of treatment including surgery, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, and radiation therapy for patients with all stages of melanoma.

Excerpted from UofL Today by Tiffany Meredith / January 22, 2019

In a moving speech on the difference between patient palliative “treatment” and palliative “care,” Kelly McMasters, M.D., Ph.D., gave the keynote lecture at the January meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.

   McMasters is the Ben A. Reid Sr., M.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery and serves as Director of the Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinic and as an Associate Director of the JGBCC.

   In his keynote address, entitled “The Fundamental Difference Between Palliative Treatment and Palliative Care,” McMasters noted that the audience was filled with those who have devoted their lives to the care of patients with cancer, and will perform research that will relieve suffering, improve quality of life, extend survival and find a cure.

   Using one of his patients as an example, he argued that while regular tests and treatments make sense for patients whose cancer can be cured or their lives extended (with good quality), for those with recurring cancer who will eventually die from the disease, there is no evidence early detection of asymptomatic recurrence is any better than waiting until they are symptomatic. For those patients, regular tests and treatments can rob them of their quality of life.

   “Our duty to our patients is to care for them, not just for their disease, but for who they are,” McMasters said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to put the patient through treatments and tests that, in the end, won’t affect whether they live or die. They are often better served by living free of pain and suffering, happily in the company of those they love, doing the things that make life worth living.”

   McMasters has personal experience of losing a loved one to cancer – he lost his son, Owen, to leukemia.

   At the JGBCC, McMasters – who specializes in melanoma, breast cancer, sarcoma, hepatobiliary tumors and pancreatic and gastric cancers – works to identify the most effective combination of treatment including surgery, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, and radiation therapy for patients with all stages of melanoma.

Excerpted from UofL Today by Tiffany Meredith / January 22, 2019