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Supportive And Palliative Oncology—A New Paradigm For Comprehensive Cancer Care

David Hui, Eduardo Bruera, ,

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Patients with advanced cancer often experience symptoms related to increasing tumor burden, cancer treatments, and psychosocial stressors. They also have significant social, informational, and decision-making needs. Palliative care practitioners have developed expertise to address many of these supportive care concerns through interprofessional teamwork, validated assessments, multidimensional interventions, and frequent communication. In this article, we aim to provide an evidence-based update on several important palliative care topics, including management of pain, fatigue, anorexia–cachexia, depression, and anxiety, as well as patient–clinician communication and decision-making. Multiple randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that palliative care can improve symptom burden, quality of life, quality of care, satisfaction, and possibly survival and cost of care. To enhance the level of care for patients with advanced cancer, oncologists need to have a good working knowledge of the major palliative care principles, and to refer patients to palliative care programs often and early in the disease trajectory.