Nightly News | September 10, 2010
>> it will be l.a.'s turn in the spotlight where the major tv networks are all here in this room drawing forces to draw attention to cancer prevention and treatment. more on that later on.
>>> first, we have an appropriate making a difference report tonight about a simple change in strategy that can improve and even prolong the lives of cancer patients. our report tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman .
>> reporter: when 45-year-old jim windhorse was diagnosed with an advanced aggressive form of lung cancer , he and his wife terry were blindsided.
>> we were trying to figure out how to move forward, how do you raise our kids.
>> reporter: jim joined a study at massachusetts general hospital . a team of palliative care specialists, doctors, nurses and specialists trained to provide end of life care and work on extending life through early interventions.
>> traditionally this team would see people late in the disease. what's different about our study is we asked them to see patients who were newly diagnosed with advanced lung cancer .
>> reporter: those patients are immediately partnered with a palliative care specialist to find ways to ease the turmoil almost always experienced by a serious cancer diagnosis. the patients had fewer hospitalizations and lived longer, an average of three months longer than patients getting standard cancer care alone. not only did the patients live longer, they reported lower levels of pain, nausea, depression and better mobility than those who were not in the program. with help from his palliative care guide jim windhorse turned to acupuncture, xi xong classes and meditation. the result was a heartier appetite and less stress caused by chemotherapy and radiation.
>> it was forming strategies on how to get out of the hole, start living again.
>> reporter: these tools, he says, are making a difference, helping him be a better dad and husband while living with a deadly disease. it's further evidence, doctors say, that focusing on the quality of life can actually extend life. dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, new york.