Power to the Patients

American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends giving patients end-of-life care options sooner

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) According to new recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, individuals with advanced cancer should be counseled on end-of-life care choices earlier.

These options are sometimes presented only shortly before death, according to the statement.

"Patients need to be empowered," said statement author Dr. Jeffrey M. Peppercorn, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. He said there's no "one size fit all" approach to cancer care, but in most instances of advanced disease, there are options for palliative care (for symptom management only), clinical trials and disease-directed therapy.

Recommendations from the statement include: quality of life should be the utmost priority at any stage of advanced disease care; prognosis and treatment options should be addressed soon after diagnosis of advanced cancer; and patients should be given the opportunity to participate in clinical research trials.

Dr. Steven Libutti, director of the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care in New York City cautioned the importance of having these conversations in a "staged way." He said patients and families are rarely ready to hear that few treatment options are left.

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Review Date: 
January 28, 2011
Last Updated:
February 4, 2011