Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 104–112 | Cite as

Indications and use of palliative surgery-results of society of surgical oncology survey

  • Laurence E. McCahillEmail author
  • Robert Krouse
  • David Chu
  • Gloria Juarez
  • Gwen C. Uman
  • Betty Ferrell
  • Lawrence D. Wagman
Original Articles


Background: Despite increasing attention to end-of-life care in oncology, palliative surgery (PS) remains poorly defined. A survey to test the definition, assess the extent of use, and evaluate attitudes and goals of surgeons regarding PS was devised.

Methods: A survey of Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) members.

Results: 419 SSO members completed a 110-item survey. Surgeons estimated 21% of their cancer surgeries as palliative in nature. Forty-three percent of respondents felt PS was best defined based on pre-operative intent, 27% based on post-operative factors, and 30% on patient prognosis. Only 43% considered estimated patient survival time an important factor in defining PS, and 22% considered 5-year survival rate important. The vast majority (95%) considered tumor still evident following surgery in a patient with poor prognosis constituted PS. Most surgeons felt PS could be procedures due to generalized illness related to cancer (80%) or related to cancer treatment complications (76%). Patient symptom relief and pain relief were identified as the two most important goals in PS, with increased survival the least important.

Conclusion: PS is a major portion of surgical oncology practice. Quality-of-life parameters, not patient survival, were identified as the most important goals of PS.


Palliative Care Gastric Outlet Obstruction Palliative Care Specialist Recurrent Rectal Cancer Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Surgical Onology, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurence E. McCahill
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Krouse
    • 3
  • David Chu
    • 1
  • Gloria Juarez
    • 2
  • Gwen C. Uman
    • 4
  • Betty Ferrell
    • 2
  • Lawrence D. Wagman
    • 1
  1. 1.From the Department of General Oncologic SurgeryCity of Hope National Medical CenterDuarte
  2. 2.Department of Nursing ResearchCity of Hope National Medical CenterDuarte
  3. 3.Department of SurgerySouthern Arizona Veteran’s Affairs Health Care SystemTucson
  4. 4.Vital ResearchLos Angeles

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