Because I am a widow, I am acutely aware of the problems in our medical system with palliative care. One of the problems is that people are not introduced to palliative care until very late in their disease process. The NCCN has released new palliative care guidelines.

HemOnc Today ran an article today about the new guidelines. I am not sure if this information will be widely available in the prostate cancer community. As advocates we will have to educate patients and tell them to ask for doctors for services if they are not offered.

Below is a quote from the article:

The NCCN definition states: “The goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering and to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their families, regardless of the stage of disease or the need for other therapies.”

Care throughout disease course

The provision of palliative care throughout the disease course (from diagnosis through treatments and at end of life) benefits the cancer patient and the family by offering a support system along the disease trajectory.

Palliative care involvement also supports the efforts of the patient’s oncology team. Regardless of prognosis, palliative care aims to address physical, social, psychological and spiritual aspects of having a life-threatening or life-limiting illness and to control symptoms and eliminate suffering.

The 2007 NCCN Palliative Care Guidelines (available at offer a framework for integrating palliative care into current oncology practice. By providing palliative care to patients when they initially present with symptoms and alongside disease-modifying therapies, patients and families are offered a clear understanding of the natural history of their disease and its prognosis. Essentially, the early integration of palliative care provides patients with comprehensive cancer care.

To read the the entire article with tables go to this link.

By supporting and disseminating this document will we be able to make a difference for men and women dealing with the realities of prostate cancer?