The benefits and hurdles of early, concurrent, palliative care

Liz Meszaros, MDLinx

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2017

San Antonio, Texas, United States | December 05-09, 2017


The difference between hospice care and palliative care is an important distinction to make, and the shortage in palliative care providers must be addressed if clinicians are to properly care for patients with advanced cancers, according to Thomas J. Smith, MD, FACP, FASCO, FAAHPM, professor of medicine and epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.  

 “Hospice care is really good care for people at the end of life. Palliative care can be given anytime in a person’s disease trajectory, and it’s really focusing on improving the quality of life for the patient and the family,” said Dr. Smith.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends concurrent palliative care along with oncology care in all patients with advanced cancer, to be initiated within 8 weeks of diagnosis by a multidisciplinary palliative care team.

“There isn’t enough evidence to suggest that oncologists can take the time, have the difficult discussions, or have the training to do specialized palliative care. So it’s really important to partner with a palliative care team,” stressed Dr. Smith.