Palliative care and hematologic oncology: The promise of collaboration

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Palliative medicine provides active evaluation and treatment of the physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs of patients and families with serious illnesses, regardless of curability or stage of illness. The hematologic malignancies comprise diverse clinical presentations, evolutions, treatment strategies and clinical and quality of life outcomes with dual potential for rapid clinical decline and ultimate improvement. While recent medical advances have led to cure, remission or long-term disease control for patients with hematologic malignancy, many still portend poor prognoses and all are associated with significant symptom and quality of life burden for patients and families. The gravity of a diagnosis of a hematologic malignancy also weighs heavily on the medical team, who typically develop close and long-term relationships with their patients. Palliative care teams provide an additional layer of support to patients, family caregivers, and the primary medical team through close attention to symptoms and emotional, practical, and spiritual needs. Barriers to routine palliative care co-management in hematologic malignancies include persistent health professional confusion about the role of palliative care and its distinction from hospice; inadequate availability of palliative care provider capacity; and widespread lack of physician training in communicating about achievable goals of care with patients, family caregivers, and colleagues. We herein review the evidence of need for palliative care services in hematologic malignancy patients in the context of a growing body of evidence demonstrating the beneficial outcomes of such care when provided simultaneously with curative or life-prolonging treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalBlood Reviews
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Hematology
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Myeloma
  • Oncology
  • Palliative care


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