Palliative care: If it makes a difference, why wait?

An article from Media Watch, compiled and annotated by Barry R. Ashpole (Ontario, Canada). More reports can be found at IPCRC.NET

Journal of Clinical Oncology | Online – 23 March 2015 – Half of all patients with cancer might be predicted to die as a result of the disease within 5 years. Ask yourself whether an individual patient might die within a year, and you are likely to be incorrect in your estimate. But what is certain is that you will not be able to cure everyone. Palliative care (PC) offers patients and (note) their families a comprehensive package of care by a team of professionals who became experts in solving the difficult and multiple symptoms and problems that usually arise in advanced stages of the disease, helping to achieve comfort and eventually a peaceful death and bereavement. The practice has matured during the last 50 years, and it can be provided together with curative treatment. There are approximately 16,000 PC services worldwide, and fast-growing research demonstrates the effectiveness of interventions, most notably that of home-based models of PC to support patients in their own homes, which is where most would prefer to be cared for and die, with family nearby. In 2012, after publication of strong evidence from a phase III randomized controlled trial, an American Society of Clinical Oncology provisional clinical opinion recommended consideration of combined standard oncology care and PC early in the course of illness for any patient with metastatic cancer and/or a high symptom burden. In 2014, a landmark resolution was passed unanimously at the World Health Assembly that called for all state members to strengthen PC as a component of integrated treatment within the continuum of care. The question of when to initiate is central to this hoped-for integration…read more