Lege Artis Medicinae

[Palliative chemotherapy of solid tumors]


JUNE 20, 2003

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2003;13(05)

[Palliative chemotherapy, as defined, a cytotoxic treatment where the expected result is not sufficient enough to cure the patient but it could relieve the cancer related symptoms. In other words, it is such a treatment where the chance of symptomatic improvement means an overall advantage to the patient compared to the possible disadvantages of toxicity. In the 70s and 80s, only the objective response rate, relapse free interval, and overall survival rates were selected as endpoints when the activity of anticancer agents were investigated. In these studies it was observed that a considerable amount of patient showed significant symptomatic improvement even though the treatment was ineffective according to the measured endpoints. Today, the measurement of quality of life is one of the standard endpoint of such studies. Moreover, quality of life is considered as the most important independent factor when palliative chemotherapy is initiated. It should be noted that remission is not the only and final benefit of chemotherapy. The role and options of palliative chemotherapy in certain tumors are discussed.]



Further articles in this publication

Lege Artis Medicinae

[End-of-life care]


[Recently, physicians and medical literature are more concerned about end-of-life care. A review is given of studies dealing with the rights of the dying patient, with advance directives and with possible treatments in the last days of life. A survey was done in author's department on medical therapy of the terminal period of 103 inpatients, died between 01. 10. 2001. and 31. 03. 2002. Comparing these data with those of American, Finnish etc. authors, the treatments seem to be more generous - probably because in Hungary it is not (yet?) usual to ”declare” endof- life care and to withdraw active therapy. However, indication of antibiotics seems to be more clinical (28.1%, vs. 42%-88% given by similar foreign data). Antibiotics are not palliative means, however, they may be administered in the last days, if the patient is suffering from a terminal infection. Indications and choice of antibiotics are suggested in these cases; medical and ethical problems discussed. Physicians can relieve the physical and mental distressing symptoms of the dying patient and ensure human dignity and peace of the last days.]

Lege Artis Medicinae

[Indications of palliative radiotherapy]


[Radiotherapy - as a part of complex, multidisciplinary therapy - indicated in 70% of patients with malignant tumors during the natural course of the disease. Unfortunately, around 40-50% of patients can not be cured due to the advanced stage, recurrence or dissemination of the disease. In such cases radiotherapy with palliative intention can be used to resolve symptoms, decrease tumor burden and increase the quality of life for the patient. Urgent radiotherapy can overcome special symptoms causing acute life-threatening conditions. The author reviews the main indications, radiotherapy techniques, dose-fractionation schedules and treatment results of palliative and urgent radiotherapy used in the daily clinical practice.]

Lege Artis Medicinae

[Easing nausea and vomiting in terminally ill cancer patients]


[Nausea and vomiting are very frequent problems in terminally ill cancer patients, with many causes in the background. Repeated vomiting considerably affects patients' quality of life and may also cause numerous complications requiring hospitalization. In palliative care these symptoms need to be alleviated knowing that triggering causes persist. To provide effective symptom control we need to understand the triggering mechanism of vomiting as well as to have a deep knowledge of most important antiemetics and to give efficient drugs regularly.]

Lege Artis Medicinae

[Therapy of high-intensity cancer pain]


[Although cancer pain is usually a chronic one, in certain cases it needs emergency treatment due to its intensity. By the temporal appearance of pain the author discusses separately the possibilities of treatment of the continuous and the episodic (breakthrough) pain and refers particularly to the neuropathic pain. It is stressed that opiate-responsive continuous severe pain can be diminished most quickly by giving morphine intravenously and a recommendation is drafted how to perform it rapidly but safely. Finally, it is emphasized that the absence of pain analysis and appropriate drug therapy is the most important factor of inadequate pain relief up to now.]

Lege Artis Medicinae

[What is personal and what is not]

PÖRCZI Zsuzsanna

All articles in the issue

Related contents

Clinical Neuroscience

[Examining the psychometric properties of a new quality of life questionnaire in migraineurs]


[Background - The deleterious effect of primary headaches on the sufferers’ quality of life (QOL) has been abundantly documented using both generic and headache-specific instruments. The currently used questionnaires focus on a limited number of factors and therefore may not be sensitive enough to detect the effect of headache type and headache characteristics on QOL, despite the obvious clinical differences. We have devised a comprehensive questionnaire that may be more sensitive to the burden of headache. Objective - To assess the psychometric properties of the new questionnaire on a group of migraineurs. Patients and method - We studied 117 migraineurs who completed the validated Hungarian version of the SF-36 generic QOL measure and our new, 25-item questionnaire. Reliability was assessed by internal consistency, measured by Cronbach’s a of all items. Content validity was exam- ined by calculating the correlation of the items with subscales of the SF-36 measure. The correlation of the patients’ migraine characteristics with the questionnaire’s items was used to assess criterion validity. Results - The questionnaire was quick and easy to administer. The questionnaire demonstrated good reliability, with Cronbach’s alpha being 0.893. Content validity was adequate; most “physical” items of the new questionnaire showed significant correlations with the bodily pain and role physical SF-36 subscales and most “psychical” and “social” items were correlated with mental health and social functioning SF-36 subscales. Criterion validity was adequate, with headache severity being correlated with most of the items. Discussion - In this study the new headache-specific quality of life instrument showed adequate psychometric properties.]

Clinical Neuroscience

[Earlier and more efficiently: the role of deep brain stimulation for parkinson’s disease preserving the working capabilities]

DELI Gabriella, BALÁS István, KOMOLY Sámuel, DÓCZI Tamás, JANSZKY József, ASCHERMANN Zsuzsanna, NAGY Ferenc, BOSNYÁK Edit, KOVÁCS Norbert

[Background – The recently published “EarlyStim” study demonstrated that deep brain stimulation (DBS) for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) with early fluctuations is superior to the optimal pharmacological treatment in improving the quality of life and motor symptoms, and preserving sociocultural position. Our retrospective investigation aimed to evaluate if DBS therapy was able to preserve the working capabilities of our patients. Methods – We reviewed the data of 39 young (<60 years-old) PD patients who underwent subthalamic DBS implantation at University of Pécs and had at least two years follow-up. Patients were categorized into two groups based on their working capabilities: Patients with active job (“Job+” group, n=15) and retired patients (without active job, “Job-” group, n=24). Severity of motor symptoms (UPDRS part 3), quality of life (EQ-5D) and presence of active job were evaluated one and two years after the operation. Results – As far as the severity of motor symptoms were concerned, similar (approximately 50%) improvement was achieved in both groups. However, the postoperative quality of life was significantly better in the Job+ group. Majority (12/15, 80%) of Job+ group members were able to preserve their job two years after the operation. However, only a minimal portion (1/24, 4.2%) of the Job- group members was able to return to the world of active employees (p<0.01, McNemar test). Conclusion – Although our retrospective study has several limitations, our results fit well with the conclusions of “EarlyStim” study. Both of them suggest that with optimal timing of DBS implantation we may preserve the working capabilities of our patients.]

Lege Artis Medicinae

[End of the line? Addenda to the health and social care career of psychiatric patients living in Hungary’s asylums]


[The authors are focusing on a special type of long term psychiatric care taking place in Hungary outside of the conventional mental health care system, by introducing some institutional aspects of the not well known world of so called social homes for psychiatric patients (asylums). After reviewing several caracteristics of institutional development of psychiatric care in Hun­gary based on selected Hungarian and in­ternational historical sources, the main struc­tural data of present Hungarian institutional capacities of psychiatric health and social care services are shown. Finally, the authors based on own personal experiences describe several functional ascpects of the largest existing asylum in EU, a so­cial home for long term care of psychiatric pa­tients. By the beginning of the 20th century, Hungarian psychiatric institutions were operating on an infrastructure of three large mental hospitals standing alone and several psychiatric wards incorporated into hospitals. Nevertheless, at the very first session of the Psychiatrists’ Conference held in 1900 many professionals gave warning: mental institutions were overcrowded and the quality of care provided in psychiatric hospital wards, many of which located in the countryside of Hungary, in most cases was far from what would have been professionally acceptable. The solution was seen in the building of new independent mental hospitals and the introduction of a family nursing institution already established in Western Europe; only the latter measure was implemented in the first half of the 20th century but with great success. However, as a result of the socio-political-economic-ideological turn following the Second World War, the institution of family nursing was dismantled while different types of psychiatric care facilities were developed, such as institutionalised hospital and outpatient care. In the meantime, a new type of institution emerged in the 1950s: the social home for psychiatric pa­tients, which provided care for approximately the same number of chronic psychiatric patients nationwide as the number of functioning hospital beds for acute psychiatric patients. This have not changed significantly since, while so­cial homes for psychiatric patients are perhaps less visible to the professional and lay public nowadays, altough their operational conditions are deteriorating of late years. Data show, that for historical reasons the current sys­tem of inpatient psychiatric care is proportionately arranged between health care and social care institutions; each covering one third. Further research is needed to fully explore and understand the current challenges that the system of psychiatric care social- and health care institu­tions are facing. An in-depth analysis would significantly contribute to the comprehensive improvement of the quality of services and the quality of lives of patients, their relatives and the health- and social care professionals who support them. ]

Clinical Neuroscience

[The quality of life of the cluster headache patients during the active phase of the headache]


[Introduction - Cluster headache (CH), which affects 0.1% of the population, is one of the most painful human conditions: despite adequate treatment, the frequent and severe headaches cause a significant burden to the patients. According to a small number of previous studies, CH has a serious negative effect on the sufferers’ quality of life (QOL). In the current study, we set out to examine the quality of life of the CH patients attending our outpatient service between 2013 and 2016, using generic and headache-specific QOL instruments. Methods - A total of 42 CH patients (16 females and 26 males; mean age: 39.1±13.5 years) completed the SF-36 generic QOL questionnaire and the headache- specific CHQQ questionnaire (Comprehensive Headache- related Quality of life Questionnaire), during the active phase of their headache. Their data were compared to those of patients suffering from chronic tension type headache (CTH) and to data obtained from controls not suffering from significant forms of headache, using Kruskal-Wallis tests. Results - During the active phase of the CH, the patients’ generic QOL was significantly worse than that of normal controls in four of the 8 domains of the SF-36 instrument. Apart from a significantly worse result in the ‘Bodily pain’ SF-36 domain, there were no significant differences between the CH patients’ and the CTH patients’ results. All the dimensions and the total score of the headache-specific CHQQ instrument showed significantly worse QOL in the CH group than in the CTH group or in the control group. Conclusion - Cluster headache has a significant negative effect on the quality of life. The decrease of QOL experienced by the patients was better reflected by the headache-specific CHQQ instrument than by the generic SF-36 instrument. ]

Clinical Neuroscience

[Treatment of dystonia by deep brain stimulation: a summary of 40 cases]

DELI Gabriella, BALÁS István, KOMOLY Sámuel, DÓCZI Tamás, JANSZKY József, ILLÉS Zsolt, ASCHERMANN Zsuzsanna, TASNÁDI Emese, NAGY Ferenc, PFUND Zoltán, BÓNÉ Beáta, BOSNYÁK Edit, KULIFFAY Zsolt, SZIJJÁRTÓ Gábo

[Background - Bilateral pallidal deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established treatment option for primary generalized and segmental dystonia. In the present study we evaluated the results of our dystonia patients treated by DBS. Methods - The surgical results of forty consecutive dystonia patients underwent DBS implantation were analyzed (age: 43.7±17.7 years; sex: 22 men; etiology: 24 primary and 16 secondary dystonia; topography: 24 generalized, 12 segmental and four hemidystonia; disease duration: 16.1±9.3 years). Severity of dystonia measured by Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale (BFMDRS) and health-related quality of life measured by EQ-5D scale were obtained preoperatively and compared to the scores obtained at postoperative six months and subsequent yearly follow-ups. The average follow-up lasted 2.5 years (median, 0.5-8 years). In all cases the BFMDRS scores were re-evaluated by a rater blinded to the treatment. Treatment responsiveness was defined as an at least 25% improvement on the BFMDRS scores. Non-parametric Mann-Whitney, McNemar and Kruskal-Wallis tests were applied to test statistical significance. Results - Severity of dystonia improved from 31 to 10 points (median, 68% improvement, p<0.01) in the primary dystonia group, whereas in secondary dystonia these changes were statistically insignificant (improvement from 40 to 31.5 points, 21.2%, p>0.05). However, the health-related quality of life significantly improved in both groups (primary dystonia: 0.378 vs. 0.788 and secondary dystonia: 0.110 vs. 0.388, p<0.01). Significantly more patients in the primary dystonia group responded to DBS treatment than those in the secondary dystonia group (83.3% vs. 37.5%, p<0.01). Conclusion - Our results are in accordance with previously published international findings demonstrating that DBS is a highly effective and long-lasting treatment option for primary dystonia. DBS is considerably less efficient in secondary dystonia; however, it still has a high impact on the quality of life presumably due to its pain-relieving effect.]