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Palliative Care

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Abstract

From the words “you have cancer,” the life of an individual and their loved ones indisputably changes. Those few words have preconceived ideas of diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and the “what now” questions moving forward. All of these concerns are legitimate and can be overwhelming. As much as healthcare providers may anticipate them, the discussions and symptom management are challenging for the providers, the patients, and their families. These challenging conversations continue to evolve along the cancer continuum. One such conversation may involve engaging the services of palliative care to better control symptoms, address concerns, and approach times of transition during the disease trajectory. It is not uncommon that the mere mention of palliative care evokes a sense of fear and hesitation in patients, families, and healthcare providers. Despite the growth of the field, the assumption remains that palliative care is synonymous with end-of-life care and that healthcare providers are giving up or abandoning all care, which is not the case. In the realm of oncology, palliative care is sometimes referred to as “supportive care.” It encompasses symptom management in the broadest sense involving multidisciplinary teams and both palliative and disease-specific services as needed, initiated concurrently and provided in parallel from initial diagnosis and symptom management into transitions of care toward survivorship or end of life and bereavement. The term “supportive care” is speculated to be less distressing to patients, and oncologists are more comfortable with the word “supportive” as opposed to “palliative.” Thus, “supportive care” resulted in earlier referrals to palliative care services and ultimately improved overall support and symptom management. When the palliative care program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was renamed supportive care, MD Anderson saw a significant rise in the number of referrals [1, 2]. Throughout this chapter, the terms palliative care and supportive care will be used interchangeably.

Keywords

  • Palliative Care
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network
  • Advance Care Planning
  • Palliative Care Service

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

The original version of this chapter was revised. An erratum to this chapter can be found at DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-24814-1_20

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Correspondence to Ellyn M. Lee MD, FACP .

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Rhodes, S.M., Gabbard, J., Chaudhury, A., Ketterer, B., Lee, E.M. (2016). Palliative Care. In: Alberts, D., Lluria-Prevatt, M., Kha, S., Weihs, K. (eds) Supportive Cancer Care. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24814-1_5

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