Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Early Discussions About Prognosis Urged

Individualizing Care

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is calling on physicians, medical schools, insurers, and others to help improve quality of life for people with advanced cancer by discussing the full range of palliative care and treatment options soon after patients are diagnosed with advanced, incurable cancer. 

Currently, physicians talk about prognosis early in the course of advanced disease less than 40% of the time. (In addition to guidelines for physicians, ASCO also released a guide to help patients broach the subject of prognosis and care options with physicians.) 

Critical issues are tackled in a comprehensive article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.  

They include:
  • Consideration of clinical trials
  • Initiating conversations about poor prognosis
  • Guidelines for discontinuing cancer-directed treatments
  • Individualizing approaches to care
  • Empowering patients
  • Maximizing quality of life
“Patients with advanced incurable cancer face complex physical, psychological, social, and spiritual consequences of disease and its treatment. Care for these patients should include an individualized assessment of the patient’s needs, goals, and preferences throughout the course of illness,” say the authors.  

Time for Hospice?

Pathways can assist you in managing the care  of complex patients, while providing care at home. 

We can help you determine the likely prognosis and if the life expectancy is six months or less, we can suggest ways to approach the patient and family about changing the focus of care from cure to comfort.

If you like, Pathways can have a nurse visit to explain hospice to appropriate patients and families, so that they will have sufficient information to make an informed decision about using their hospice benefit.

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