- An interdisciplinary palliative care team consists of physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and chaplains who work together to provide symptom relief, pain management, and relief from psychosocial distress.
- Common palliative care principles that oncologists can adopt include improving symptom assessment and management; improving understanding of prognosis and delivering prognosis information with compassion and empathy; and recognizing that spiritual, psychosocial, and cultural elements play important roles in causing suffering for cancer patients.
- Referral to a specialized palliative care team is necessary for management of refractory pain and other symptoms; complex depression and anxiety; conflicts among family and/or healthcare teams; and questions related to home palliative care or hospice programs.
- Communication is a foundation of palliative care. Studies show that patients with chronic illness want to talk with their oncologist about their choices and goals of care, as well as have frank discussions about prognosis.