Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media
In a year that has seen the publication of this very substantial textbook of supportive care in oncology and also the second edition of an equally substantial textbook of palliative medicine,1 some readers may wonder how the two disciplines—supportive cancer care and palliative medicine—differ from one another. The differences, in fact, are primarily historical. Supportive oncology emerged from the cancer centers and academic oncology departments to deal with symptoms arising from cancer or its treatment at any stage of the disease. Supportive oncology was aimed at bolstering the patient through an often arduous treatment schedule, whose goal was cure or at least prolongation of survival, and an earlier handbook of supportive oncology reflected that emphasis.2Palliative medicine had its origins primarily in the hospice setting, outside the academic establishment, and was originally focused on care of the terminally ill and dying (mostly, but not exclusively, those dying of cancer), so emphasis was inevitably on end-of-life issues.
Supportive OncologyPrinciples and Practice of Supportive Oncology. JAMA. 1998;280(10):938-939. doi:10.1001/jama.280.10.938-JBK0909-6-1