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J Clin Oncol. 2010 Nov 10;28(32):4819-24. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.22.4543. Epub 2010 Mar 8.

Role of palliative care in adolescent and young adult oncology.

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  • 1Pain and Palliative Care Service, Psycho-Oncology Service, and Department of Medical Oncology, Davidoff Cancer Center, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikvah, Israel.


Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer are a heterogeneous group. Nevertheless, there are sufficient unifying characteristics to form a distinct clinical entity. Management of this special group requires a broad-based interdisciplinary clinical team, which should include palliative care (PC), psychology, social work, oncology, and nursing representatives. The function of PC is to provide impeccable pain and other symptom control and to coordinate care as the disease progresses. Features unique to AYAs with cancer include the psychosocial developmental phases, a young person facing death, grief, and bereavement. Pharmacologic and medical interventions by PC in AYAs are broadly similar to adults. Developing trust and being flexible are key skills that PC must use with AYAs. There is a paucity of high-quality controlled studies in the PC literature in general and AYA-PC in particular. Therefore, the methodology of this article is largely based on the narrative and clinical experience. The experience is based on clinicians' work with AYAs with cancer in Israel and Australia. Clinical lessons will be drawn by comparing and contrasting the cultures. Nevertheless, most PC clinical interventions, both pharmacologic and psychosocial, are derived from literature where there is a good evidence base. Future development of PC within AYAs should be coordinated at a national level via appropriate palliative and oncology professional organizations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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