Palliative care: Not just another word for hospice

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thomas LeBlanc, MD, of Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, N.C., joins host David H. Henry, MD, of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, to discuss the evolution of the palliative care field and some of the underrecognized ways that it can improve care for hematology-oncology patients.

Plus, in Clinical Correlation, Ilana Yurkiewicz, MD, of Stanford (Calif.) University, shares the story of a patient who put aside her own desire for hospice because of family pressure to pursue curative treatment.

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  • Palliative medicine has evolved tremendously over the past decade; it used to be synonymous with hospice and dying. It is now a sophisticated medical subspecialty with growing and large evidence base.
  • Palliative treatments are aimed at maximizing patient's quality of life and can be provided alongside other curative treatments.
  • Physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners form an interdisciplinary team along with patients and their families.
  • Palliative care specialists can work alongside oncologists to optimize symptom management in patients with multiple or refractory/severe symptoms, including chemotherapy-induced nausea and pain neuropathy.
  • Palliative care specialists also can help provide a safe space and an extra layer of support to patients having difficulty coping with illness.
  • The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has developed a guideline that all patients with advanced cancer should be receiving dedicated palliative care services concurrent with active treatment.
  • Workforce shortages in palliative care are limiting access for patients with cancer.


Integration of palliative care into standard oncology care: ASCO Practice Guideline update (2017)

Show notes by Debika Biswal Shinohara, MD, PhD, resident in the department of internal medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

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Podcast Participants

David Henry, MD
David Henry, MD, FACP, is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and vice chairman of the department of medicine at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his MD from the University of Pennsylvania, then completed his internship, residency, and fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. After 2 years as an attending in the U.S. Air Force, he was drawn to practicing as a hem-onc because of the close patient contact and interaction, and his belief that, win or lose with each patient, one can always make a difference in their care and lives. Follow Dr. Henry on Twitter: @davidhenrymd.
Ilana Yurkiewicz, MD
Ilana Yurkiewicz, MD, is a fellow in hematology and oncology at Stanford University, where she also completed her internal medicine residency. Dr. Yurkiewicz holds an MD from Harvard Medical School and a BS from Yale University. She went into hematology and oncology because of the high-stakes decision-making, meaningful relationships with patients, and opportunity to help people through some of the toughest challenges of their lives. Dr. Yurkiewicz is also a medical journalist. She is a former AAAS Mass Media Fellow and Scientific American blog columnist, and her writing has appeared in numerous media outlets including Hematology News, where she writes the monthly column Hard Questions. Dr. Yurkiewicz is on Twitter: @ilanayurkiewicz.