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Palliative care for adolescents and young adults with cancer
Abby R Rosenberg,1–3 Joanne Wolfe4–6
1Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA; 2Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA; 3Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; 4Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care/Division of Pediatric Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA; 5Department of Medicine/Division of Hematology/Oncology, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA; 6Department of Pediatrics, Harvard University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Abstract: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer represent a unique and challenging group of patients with distinct developmental and psychosocial needs that may be unrecognized or unmet during their cancer experience. Palliative care refers to the total care of a patient, regardless of his or her disease status, and aims to improve quality of life by controlling symptoms and alleviating physical, social, psychological, and spiritual suffering. Integrating palliative care into standard oncology practice for AYAs is therefore valuable, if not imperative, in improving their overall cancer experience. In this review, we aimed to describe the scope, benefits, and challenges of palliative care for AYA oncology patients. We provide a broad impression of the existing literature describing or investigating palliative care in this population. Put together, the evidence suggests that palliative care is not only needed, but can also be critically beneficial to patients, families, and health care professionals alike. As we increase public and professional awareness of the needs and applications of palliative care for AYA patients with cancer, we will ultimately enable better psychosocial outcomes of the AYA patients and their larger communities.
Keywords: supportive care, end of life, psychosocial outcomes, psychosocial oncology, psychosocial needs, quality of life, pediatric oncology
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