Cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in children and adolescents. Pediatric patients with cancer suffer greatly at the end of life. However, palliative care interventions can reduce suffering and significantly improve the care of these patients and their families. A large percentage of pediatric deaths occur outside of the hospital setting where pediatric palliative resources may not be readily available. Patients in the home setting may be cared for by community hospice programs, which are typically staffed for adult populations. Increasingly, nonpediatric providers are asked to provide palliative care for children and adolescents at the end of life, yet they receive little formal training in this area. This review focuses on the principles of best practice in the provision of palliative care for children and adolescents with cancer. Our intent is to aid clinical providers in delivering optimal care to this patient population. Topics unique to pediatric palliative care that are addressed include: providing pain and symptom management in the broad pediatric range from neonate to adolescent; caring for and interacting with developmentally distinct groups; engaging in shared decision making with parents and adolescents; providing accommodations for prognoses that are often more uncertain than in adult patients; and delivering concurrent disease-directed therapy with palliative care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)