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Invited Commentary
February 2016

Addressing End-of-Life Quality Gaps in Hematologic CancersThe Importance of Early Concurrent Palliative Care

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy, Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina
  • 2Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(2):265-266. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.6994

Although many patients with hematologic cancers are cured, many are not. It is estimated that more than 55 000 Americans will die of leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma in 2015, many more than the annual deaths from common cancers such as breast cancer.1 Despite this, surprisingly little attention is given to palliative and end-of-life (EOL) issues in hematologic cancers. Yet the quality gap is clear: these patients are less likely to use hospice services, more likely to die in the hospital, and less likely to see a palliative care specialist.2 Now, however, after many years of relative silence there is hope on the horizon. Several key studies, including the article by Odejide et al,3 have recently appeared in the literature, each illuminating unique palliative and EOL issues in hematologic cancers.

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