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Facilitating Early Integration Of Palliative Care Into Breast Cancer Therapy. Promoting Disease-Specific Guidelines

J. Gaertner, R. Wuerstlein, C. Ostgathe, P. Mallmann, N. Harbeck, R. Voltz
Published 2011 · Medicine

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To comply with patients‘ needs as well as ASCO and WHO recommendations, our institution aims to integrate palliative care (PC) early in the course of breast cancer (BC) therapy. The evaluation of relevant pilot project data revealed that these recommendations were too vague to trigger PC integration. Therefore, a standard operating procedure (SOP) was developed by our interdisciplinary working group to provide disease-specific information to overcome the ambiguity of the WHO recommendations and guide PC integration. Literally, the SOP states that ‘Specialized PC is recommended regularly for all BC patients without curative treatment options, specifically for patients with i) metastasized and inoperable, or ii) locally advanced and inoperable, or iii) relapsing BC, who are receiving intravenous chemotherapy’. This SOP for the first time presents disease-specific guidelines for PC integration into comprehensive BC therapy by defining ‘green flags’ for early integration of PC and delineating PC from senology assignments. Although disease-specific SOPs have also been developed by this working group for other malignancies, the decision when to first integrate PC into BC therapy differs substantially because of the different clinical characteristics of the disease.
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