ASCO Issues Statement on Advanced Cancer Care

Policy statement outlines goals for individualized care and approaches to overcome care barriers

TUESDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has issued a policy statement that recommends steps to ensure that physicians initiate discussions about palliative care and treatment options shortly after patients are diagnosed with advanced cancer. The statement has been published online Jan. 24 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Jeffrey M. Peppercorn, M.D., M.P.H., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues outlined the goals for individualized care, barriers that limit realization of this vision, and potential strategies to overcome these barriers that can improve care in line with patients' goals and evidence-based medical practice.

According to the policy statement, individualized advanced cancer care should include physician-initiated candid discussions about prognosis with patients shortly after advanced cancer diagnosis, with quality of life being made a priority in care. In an effort to address barriers to advanced cancer care planning, ASCO recommends that physician education and training programs emphasize advanced cancer care planning, that insurance coverage be provided for advanced cancer care planning discussions, that more opportunities be made available for advanced cancer patients to participate in clinical research, and that educational resources be increased for patients with advanced cancer.

"This is a clarion call for oncologists as individual practitioners, and for our profession in general, to take the lead in curtailing the use of ineffective therapy and ensuring a focus on palliative care and relief of symptoms throughout the course of illness," the authors write.

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