The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued a policy statement in January 2011 calling on physicians, medical schools, insurers, and healthcare providers to help improve quality of life for people with advanced cancer.1 In the policy statement, ASCO recommends steps to ensure that physicians initiate candid discussions about the full range of palliative care and treatment options soon after patients’ diagnosis with advanced cancer (defined as incurable disease).
Because doctor/patient communication is critical to optimal patient care, ASCO also released a guide2 for patients with advanced cancer to broach difficult conversations about their prognosis, treatment and palliative care options with their healthcare providers. Later this year, ASCO will issue its first clinical guidance to help oncologists initiate these conversations and better integrate palliative therapy into oncology practice.
Peppercorn JM, Smith TJ, Helft PR, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology Statement: Toward Individualized Care for Patients with Advanced Cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2011; published ahead of print January 24, 2011. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.33.1744 Link to free, full-text article http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2011/01/24/JCO.2010.33.1744.full.pdf+html
- American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Advanced Cancer Care Planning: What Patients and Families Need to Know about Their Choices When Facing Serious Illness. 2011. Available as free PDF download http://www.cancer.net/patient/Coping/Advanced%20Cancer%20Care%20Planning/Advanced_Cancer_Care_Planning.pdf