ASCO Recommends Steps to Improve Doctor-Patient Communication about End-of-Life Cancer Care

The American Society of Clinical Oncology released a policy statement recommending “steps to ensure that physicians initiate candid discussions about the full range of palliative care and treatment options soon after patients’ diagnosis with advanced cancer (defined as incurable disease).”

The key elements identified by ASCO to individualize advanced cancer care include:

  • Physicians should initiate candid discussions about prognosis with their patients soon after an advanced cancer diagnosis. Such conversations currently occur with less than 40% of patients with advanced cancer.
  • Quality of life should be an explicit priority throughout the course of advanced cancer care. Physicians must help their patients fully understand their prognosis, the potential risks and benefits of available cancer treatments, and quality of life considerations. In cases where active treatment is unlikely to extend survival, palliative care should be discussed as a concurrent or alternate therapy.
  • Clinical trial opportunities should be increased. Currently, very few patients with advanced cancer participate in trials due to strict eligibility criteria, a dearth of trials that address quality of life issues, and other barriers. Increasing opportunities for these patients to potentially benefit from trials and to contribute to improving cancer care should be a high priority.

See the full release here