Helping Patients Understand Palliative Care

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The booklet Palliative Care: Improving Quality of Life for Patients and Families is one of the latest additions to the ASCO Answers collection of patient education materials developed by ASCO for people with cancer and their caregivers. These materials provide oncologist-approved information in a conversational tone, to give patients and their caregivers the tools and resources they need to become active participants in their cancer care.

In the Palliative Care booklet, patients and their families learn about this specialized area of medicine and how it differs from hospice care. It explains that palliative care is more than receiving a drug to ease physical symptoms, but rather, involves supporting a patient’s physical, social, spiritual, and emotional health, from diagnosis into recovery.

Additionally, patients and caregivers can find a list of questions to ask the health-care team, a list of national organizations that can provide additional information and support, and a dictionary of terms related to palliative care that they might hear during diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

Talking about palliative care soon after a cancer diagnosis helps patients better understand their prognosis and goals of treatment, clarifies their expectations, and helps them maintain the best quality of life. By using this booklet, patients and their families are better able to talk with members of their health-care team about their concerns, and work with them to manage the challenges that come with cancer.

The new Palliative Care booklet can be purchased in packs of 125 from the ASCO University Bookstore at ASCO members receive a 20% discount, and all patient education materials ship for free. It is also available to download at

For more information on quality-of-life issues, your patients can also turn to Cancer.Net’s symptom management resources. At, patients can find articles on more than 45 side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. These articles explain symptoms that should be reported to their health-care team and how each side effect can be managed. ■

Originally printed in ASCO Connection. © American Society of Clinical Oncology. “Helping Patients Understand Palliative Care.” ASCO Connection, January 2015: 35. All rights reserved.





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