The Oncologist's Role in Care of the Dying Cancer Patient
Cancer journal (Sudbury, Mass.) 2010 Sep-Oct; 16(5): 532-41
Caring for dying patients is challenging for oncologists, but a crucial aspect of cancer care. It requires highly developed communication skills and an understanding of prognostication at the end of life, which can potentially be improved by training and use of appropriate tools. Psychosocial concerns are as important as physical symptoms. Specific strategies for supporting dying patients are evolving, including dignity therapy and other meaning-based therapies. Symptoms affecting dying patients' comfort, including pain, dyspnea, delirium, and terminal secretions, require different clinical management as death approaches. Equally important is the ability to discuss transitions in goals of care from cure to comfort and supporting families and patients to make wise decisions without feeling they have been abandoned. Involving a palliative care team supports both oncologists and patients by providing whole-person assessment and care and excellent symptom control and can offer bereavement services to follow up family members after death.
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