Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common cause of disability and death in Canada. Moreover, morbidity and mortality from COPD continue to rise, and the economic burden is enormous. The main goal of the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) Evidence-Based Guidelines is to optimize early diagnosis, prevention and management of COPD in Canada. Targeted spirometry is strongly recommended to expedite early diagnosis in smokers and exsmokers who develop respiratory symptoms, and who are at risk for COPD. Smoking cessation remains the single most effective intervention in accordance with the increasing severity of symptoms and disability. Long-acting anticholinergics and beta2-agonist inhalers should be prescribed for patients who remain symptomatic despite short-acting bronchodilatory therapy. Inhaled steroids should not be used as first-line therapy in COPD but have a role in preventing exacerbations in patients with more advanced disease who suffer recurrent exacerbations. Management strategies consisting of combined modern pharmacotherapy and nonpharmacotherapeutic interventions (eg, pulmonary rehabilitation/exercise training) can effectively improve symptoms, activity levels and quality of life, even in patients with severe COPD. Acute exacerbations of COPD cause significant morbidity and mortality and should be treated promptly with bronchodilators and a short course of oral steroids; antibiotics should be prescribed for purulent exacerbations. Patients with advanced COPD and respiratory failure require a comprehensive management plan that incorporates structured end-of-life care.
Comment In: Can Respir J. 2004 Jan-Feb;11(1):15-615010727
Advances in technology and drug therapy have resulted in cancer patients living longer with malignant disease. However, most of these patients will face the end of life much sooner than the general population. Adopting a "palliative approach" is one innovation that has the potential to promote anticipatory planning and promote enhanced end-of-life care. Yet, in much of the western world, this upstream orientation has rarely been achieved. An emphasis on providing palliative care late in the illness trajectory has resulted in many challenges for the care of people with advanced cancer. We highlight a nursing research initiative, The Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence and Leadership (iPANEL), that aims to develop evidence to inform the integration of a palliative approach into the care of people with advancing chronic life-limiting conditions. Oncology nurses have an important role to play in facilitating a palliative approach, transforming the ways in which cancer patients are cared for within our health care system.