Communication about transitioning patients to palliative care
Despite advances in anti-cancer treatments, most adult cancer patients still eventually die from their disease. For these patients, the goal of care changes from curative to palliative at some point along the disease trajectory. Alternatively, the goal of care may be palliative from the moment of diagnosis in patients presenting with disseminated cancer. Palliative anti-cancer treatments aim to minimise spread of cancer and disease progression, help control symptoms, and improve quality of life. Other palliative therapies include medications and interventions to relieve symptoms — including physical, psychosocial, and existential issues. Communication skills training for health professionals has been shown to improve patient outcomes in decision-making with early stage disease. Further research is needed to show whether training for health professionals will improve outcomes for patients and their families during the transition to palliative care.
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