Integrating palliative care and oncology: towards a common understanding

Jan Gaertner, Stephen Lutz, Edward Chow, Charles B. Simone II


Health care institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out years ago that palliative care is a vital part of caring for patients with lifethreatening diseases and that it is applicable early in the course of the disease together with life-prolonging and disease-modifying therapies (1). Palliative care has been equated with end-of-life care by many physicians, the public, and policy makers for too long (2), even though for example in the field of cancer care, major societies and alliances such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) (3) and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) (4) strongly advocate the early integration of palliative care and oncology.