128IN - Supportive and palliative care: Core elements of quality cancer care

Date 30 September 2012
Event ESMO Congress 2012
Session ESMO-MASCC Joint symposium: Integration between medical oncology and supportive care: Two sides of the same coin
Topics Supportive Measures
Palliative Care
Presenter Nathan I. Cherny
Authors N.I. Cherny
  • Dept Medical Oncology, Shaare Zedek Medical Centre Oncology Institute, 91031 - Jerusalem/IL


There has been much confusion regarding the definitions of supportive care (SC) and palliative care (PC) and many authorities use the terms interchangeably. Both MASCC and ESMO are among the minority of professional organizations that distinguish between the two. SC is defined as care that facilitate safe and effective anti cancer care, minimizing toxicity and optimizing physical, psychological and social function of patients undergoing disease management strategies. SC facilitates the ability to deliver optimal anti cancer care and it has a particular focus on side effect prevention and management. All cancer patients undergoing treatment need SC and this is equally true for those undergoing curative treatments as it is for those undergoing treatment to mitigate the trajectory and consequences of advanced and incurable cancer. PC optimizes the comfort, function and social support of the patient and their family when cure is not possible. The context of incurability, with all of its implications for the patent and family, that grounds palliative care as a special entity. “End of life care” or “terminal care” is defined as PC when death is imminent. End-of-life care acknowledges that the intensity of physical, psychological, existential, spiritual and family issues may be magnified by the patient's approaching death. Patients with incurable cancer receiving antitumor therapies will often need both S + PC.


The delivery of high quality S + PC are core elements of quality oncological service and it is incumbent upon clinicians to be adequately skilled, to tend to these needs with due diligence and to promote the development of effective service delivery frameworks to ensure that patients receive these vita elements of quality care.


The author has declared no conflicts of interest.