In her interview with The ASCO Post, Judith Redwing Keyssar, RN, sheds light on easing the suffering of patients facing the end of life. Although what she says is appropriate for patients who are clearly dying, I would emphasize that palliative care is also pertinent to patients who are not terminally ill. An increasing body of evidence shows that delivering palliative care at the point of diagnosis of a serious illness not only improves quality of life for both patient and family, but also extends life. It does this by, among other things, helping patients avoid risky or harmful settings or unnecessary treatments.
The article speaks to an important but very narrow population of those who are dying imminently. However, it is vital for oncologists to be reminded of the added value of offering palliative care at the same time that disease-directed treatment is initiated for their cancer patients. ■
Disclosure: Dr. Meier reported no potential conflicts of interest.
The number of patients seeking hospice and palliative care has grown significantly since 1974, when the NCI funded the first hospice facility in Branford, Connecticut. Nevertheless, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 85% of Americans still die in hospitals or nursing homes....