Palliative Care

Palliative Care

Pennsylvania Plan for Oncology Palliative Care 

The Pennsylvania Plan for Oncology Palliative Care is a coordinated effort to improve palliative care programs and services in Pennsylvania.  In 2014-2015, the Survivorship and Palliative Care workgroup of the Pennsylvania Cancer Coalition opted to address the appropriate use of palliative care to improve quality of life.  Three roundtables, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Comprehensive Cancer Control Program and the American Cancer Society identified challenges, opportunities and potential solutions to expand palliative care.  A statewide planning task force was formed resulting in the development of the first statewide Pennsylvania Oncology Palliative Care Plan in 2016. 

What Is Palliative Care? 

Palliative or supportive care focuses on the physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs and on improving quality of life for patients with serious illness or chronic disease. This coordinated care is delivered by doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists working together to provide an extra layer of support to the patient and family.

Palliative care benefits people suffering from cancer, cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and many other serious illnesses or chronic diseases. It is not intended to cure the disease or illness, but rather provides patients with relief from symptoms, pain and stress. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

What Is Palliative Care for Cancer Survivors?

Long recognized as an important part of cancer treatment, palliative care helps manage complex pain, symptoms and simultaneous illnesses. The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) recognizes cancer care programs for providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary patient-centered care, from prevention through survivorship. More than 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs operate nationwide. Check the list of hospitals, treatment centers and other accredited facilities.

In Pennsylvania, the 2013-2018 Pennsylvania Cancer Control Plan identifies survivorship and palliative care as priorities for transforming cancer care through current and emerging best practices and clinical guidelines.

Resources, Tools and Training 

Resources, tools, training, working groups and technical assistance for providers and caregivers are available from the following sources:

Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) 

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

The American Cancer Society (ACS) 

A Guide to Palliative or Supportive Care 

Palliative Care Resources through the American Cancer Society (ACS),
Cancer Action Network (CAN)

George Washington University (GWU)

GWU's Person-Centered Toolkit

The American College of Surgeons (ACoS)

ACoS, Commission on Cancer (CoC) 

The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC)

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)