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Medical News & Perspectives
March 23 2011

ASCO: Patients With Advanced Cancer Need Advice on End-of-Life Care Options

JAMA. 2011;305(12):1185-1186. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.316

Patients with incurable advanced cancers face many difficult choices. Should they continue to pursue aggressive treatments that may reduce their quality of life? Should they enroll in a clinical trial even if there is uncertain personal benefit? Should they seek palliative or hospice care during their remaining days?

Yet too few cancer patients are getting the information they need to make the best choices for themselves. Fewer than 40% of patients with advanced cancer have frank conversations with their physicians about their options, according to a new policy statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) (Peppercorn JM et al. J Clin Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.33.1744 [published ahead of print January 24, 2011]). The statement and a new ASCO patient guide aim to facilitate frank discussions about end-of-life care.