Palliative chemotherapy: oxymoron or misunderstanding?
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Oncologists routinely prescribe chemotherapy for patients with advanced cancer. This practice is sometimes misunderstood by palliative care clinicians, yet data clearly show that chemotherapy can be a powerful palliative intervention when applied appropriately. Clarity regarding the term "palliative chemotherapy" is needed: it is chemotherapy given in the non-curative setting to optimize symptom control, improve quality of life, and sometimes to improve survival. Unfortunately, oncologists lack adequate tools to predict which patients will benefit. In a study recently published in BMC Palliative Care, Creutzfeldt et al. presented an innovative approach to advancing the science in this area: using patient reported outcomes to predict responses to palliative chemotherapy. With further research, investigators may be able to develop predictive models for use at the bedside to inform clinical decision-making about the risks and benefits of treatment. In the meantime, oncologists and palliative care clinicians must work together to reduce the use of "end-of-life chemotherapy"-chemotherapy given close to death, which does not improve longevity or symptom control-while optimizing the use of chemotherapy that has true palliative benefits for patients.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1186/s12904-016-0109-4
Publication InfoRoeland, E; & LeBlanc, Thomas William (2016). Palliative chemotherapy: oxymoron or misunderstanding?. BMC Palliat Care, 15. pp. 33. 10.1186/s12904-016-0109-4. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/13829.
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Associate Professor of Medicine
Dr. LeBlanc is a medical oncologist, palliative care physician, and patient experience researcher. His clinical practice focuses on the care of patients with hematologic malignancies, with a particular emphasis on myeloid conditions and acute leukemias including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs / MPDs, CML), as well as some lymphomas and multiple myeloma. He is an active member o