Standardizing integration of palliative care into comprehensive cancer therapy—a disease specific approach
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- Gaertner, J., Wolf, J., Hallek, M. et al. Support Care Cancer (2011) 19: 1037. doi:10.1007/s00520-011-1131-y
Our comprehensive cancer centre adopted the WHO recommendation literally in the cancer care guidelines to implement the early integration (EI) of palliative care (PC). Evaluation of the first 2 years of this approach revealed that this guideline was too vague to trigger EI.
As a consequence, an interdisciplinary working group was set up to propose and implement a more effective concept.
An interdisciplinary (PC, oncology, radiotherapy, etc.) working group identified the need to (a) specify the timing of EI and (b) specify PC assignments by (c) providing more clear cut semantic and clinical definitions. As a result of repeated discussion in the different interdisciplinary working groups in charge of developing and consenting a once-yearly update of treatment guidelines [standard operating procedure (SOP)] for each malignancy, the need for disease-specific EI SOPs was identified.
SOPs were developed for 19 malignancies (a) to identify a disease-specific point in each disease trajectory to initiate EI (“green flags”) and to provide (b) a clear delineation and semantic differentiation of PC assignments [“palliative care” vs. “supportive” or “palliative therapies” (“green” vs. “red flags”)].
To date, ASCO and WHO recommendations for EI lack detailed information about timing and infrastructure. The guidelines presented here aim to provide the missing information by reporting our developed and consented interdisciplinary guidelines for EI.
With this concept, the authors provide a framework for realizing EI and hope to initiate a discussion about specific recommendations for EI.