Pediatric palliative oncology: the state of the science and art of caring for children with cancer

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Pediatric palliative oncology (PPO) is an emerging field that integrates the principles of palliative care early into the illness trajectory of children with cancer. PPO providers work with interdisciplinary clinicians to provide optimal medical and psychosocial care to children with cancer and their families. Ongoing advances in the field of pediatric oncology, including new treatment options for progressive cancers, necessitate the early integration of palliative care tenets including holistic care, high-quality communication, and assessment and management of refractory symptoms.

Recent findings

Research in this emerging field has expanded dramatically over the past several years. This review will focus on advancements within several key areas of the field, specifically regarding investigation of the communication needs and preferences of patients and families, exploration of educational initiatives and interventions to teach PPO principles to clinicians, study of patient-reported and parent-reported tools to better assess and manage refractory symptoms, and development of novel models to integrate palliative care within pediatric oncology.

Summary

Research findings in the field of PPO, concurrent with advances in the treatment of pediatric cancer, may help improve survival and quality of life for children with cancer.

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