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NCCN Guidelines® Insights: Palliative Care, Version 2.2021

Featured Updates to the NCCN Guidelines

Maria Dans, Jean S. Kutner, Rajiv Agarwal, Justin N. Baker, Jessica R. Bauman, Anna C. Beck, Toby C. Campbell, Elise C. Carey, Amy A. Case, Shalini Dalal, Danielle J. Doberman, Andrew S. Epstein, Leslie Fecher, Joshua Jones, Jennifer Kapo, Richard T. Lee, Elizabeth T. Loggers, Susan McCammon, William Mitchell, Adeboye B. Ogunseitan, Diane G. Portman, Kavitha Ramchandran, Linda Sutton, Jennifer Temel, Melissa L. Teply, Stephanie Y. Terauchi, Jane Thomas, Anne M. Walling, Finly Zachariah, Mary Anne Bergman, Ndiya Ogba, and Mallory Campbell

Palliative care has evolved to be an integral part of comprehensive cancer care with the goal of early intervention to improve quality of life and patient outcomes. The NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care provide recommendations to help the primary oncology team promote the best quality of life possible throughout the illness trajectory for each patient with cancer. The NCCN Palliative Care Panel meets annually to evaluate and update recommendations based on panel members’ clinical expertise and emerging scientific data. These NCCN Guidelines Insights summarize the panel’s recent discussions and highlights updates on the importance of fostering adaptive coping strategies for patients and families, and on the role of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions to optimize symptom management.

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Michael H. Levy, Michael D. Adolph, Anthony Back, Susan Block, Shirley N. Codada, Shalini Dalal, Teresa L. Deshields, Elisabeth Dexter, Sydney M. Dy, Sara J. Knight, Sumathi Misra, Christine S. Ritchie, Todd M. Sauer, Thomas Smith, David Spiegel, Linda Sutton, Robert M. Taylor, Jennifer Temel, Jay Thomas, Roma Tickoo, Susan G. Urba, Jamie H. Von Roenn, Joseph L. Weems, Sharon M. Weinstein, Deborah A. Freedman-Cass, and Mary Anne Bergman

These guidelines were developed and updated by an interdisciplinary group of experts based on clinical experience and available scientific evidence. The goal of these guidelines is to help patients with cancer experience the best quality of life possible throughout the illness trajectory by providing guidance for the primary oncology team for symptom screening, assessment, palliative care interventions, reassessment, and afterdeath care. Palliative care should be initiated by the primary oncology team and augmented by collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of palliative care experts.

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Michael H. Levy, Thomas Smith, Amy Alvarez-Perez, Anthony Back, Justin N. Baker, Susan Block, Shirley N. Codada, Shalini Dalal, Maria Dans, Jean S. Kutner, Elizabeth Kvale, Sumathi Misra, William Mitchell, Todd M. Sauer, David Spiegel, Linda Sutton, Robert M. Taylor, Jennifer Temel, Roma Tickoo, Susan G. Urba, Carin Van Zyl, Sharon M. Weinstein, Mary Anne Bergman, and Jillian L. Scavone

The NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care provide interdisciplinary recommendations on palliative care for patients with cancer. These NCCN Guidelines Insights summarize the NCCN panel’s discussions and guideline updates from 2013 and 2014. These include modifications/additions to palliative care screening and assessment protocols, new considerations for discussing the benefits and risks of anticancer therapy, and approaches to advance care planning. Recent updates focus on enhanced patient-centered care and seek to promote earlier integration of palliative care and advance care planning in oncology.

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Maria Dans, Thomas Smith, Anthony Back, Justin N. Baker, Jessica R. Bauman, Anna C. Beck, Susan Block, Toby Campbell, Amy A. Case, Shalini Dalal, Howard Edwards, Thomas R. Fitch, Jennifer Kapo, Jean S. Kutner, Elizabeth Kvale, Charles Miller, Sumathi Misra, William Mitchell, Diane G. Portman, David Spiegel, Linda Sutton, Eytan Szmuilowicz, Jennifer Temel, Roma Tickoo, Susan G. Urba, Elizabeth Weinstein, Finly Zachariah, Mary Anne Bergman, and Jillian L. Scavone

The NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care provide interdisciplinary recommendations on palliative care for patients with cancer. These NCCN Guidelines Insights summarize and provide context for the updated guidelines recommendations regarding hospice and end-of-life (EOL) care. Updates for 2017 include revisions to and restructuring of the algorithms that address important EOL concerns. These recommendations were revised to provide clearer guidance for oncologists as they care for patients with cancer who are approaching the transition to EOL care. Recommendations for interventions and reassessment based on estimated life expectancy were streamlined and reprioritized to promote hospice referrals and improved EOL care.