Improvements in palliative and supportive care: recent advances


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Irene Higginson
Cicely Saunders Institute, King’s College London, UK

Abstract

Cancer is becoming more common with the ageing population. People with cancer are living longer. Both these changes result in people affected by cancer experiencing for longer periods the symptoms and the emotional and social challenges of cancer. During treatment there is a need for skilled symptom management, of treatment of side effects and of the cancer itself, and among many older people of co-morbidities. Symptoms are often multiple and especially psychological symptoms are difficult to detect and manage. For many people there is also a need for support in advanced cancer and at the end of life. However, it is often difficult to ensure that those individuals who are reaching the end of life receive the support they need. Supportive and palliative care has become a requirement for all clinicians working in cancer and this session will be of value to all clinicians working in cancer.

This session focuses on the recent advances in the management of symptoms among the growing number of older cancer patients. It also considers the detection and management of psychological distress and depression in cancer patients, and international experience of establishing an end of life register.

To provide context, the introductory session will also present recent advances in the development of outcome measurement in palliative and cancer care, with specific emphasis on the measures that can be used by clinicians in routine practice. It will present the work of the European Network PRISMA, which developed tools, including the Palliative care Outcome Scale, and the Symptom card, for routine outcome data collection in clinical practice, the evidence about what aspects patients and clinicians prioritise for assessment, and techniques of how routine outcome assessment can improve practice. It will describe clinical tools that can be downloaded from www.pos-pal.org.

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