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  • Author: Amy Alvarez-Perez x
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Brook A. Calton, Amy Alvarez-Perez, Diane G. Portman, Kavitha J. Ramchandran, Jessica Sugalski and Michael W. Rabow

Background: ASCO and IOM recommend palliative care (PC) across health care settings for patients with serious illnesses, including cancer. This study provides an overview of the current availability, structure, and basic quality of PC services within NCCN Member Institutions. Methods: A PC survey was developed by NCCN staff and a working group of PC experts from 11 NCCN Member Institutions under the auspices of the NCCN Best Practices Committee. The survey was piloted and refined by 3 working group members and sent electronically to all 26 NCCN Member Institutions. NCCN staff and working group leaders analyzed the survey data. Results: A total of 22 of 26 institutions responded (85%). All respondents (100%) reported an inpatient PC consult service (staffed by an average of 6.8 full-time equivalents [FTEs], seeing 1,031 consults/year with an average length of stay [LOS] of 10 days). A total of 91% of respondents had clinic-based PC (with an average of 469 consults/year, staffed by an average of 6.8 FTEs, and a 17-day wait time). For clinics, a comanagement care delivery model was more common than strict consultation. Home-based PC (23%) and inpatient PC units (32%) were less prevalent. Notably, 80% of institutions reported insufficient PC capacity compared with demand. Across PC settings, referrals for patients with solid tumors were more common than for hematologic malignancies. Automatic or “triggered” referrals were rare. The most common services provided were symptom management (100%) and advance care planning (96%). Most programs were funded through fee-for-service billing and institutional support. Partnerships with accountable care organizations and bundled payment arrangements were infrequent. PC program data collection and institutional funding for PC research were variable across institutions. Conclusions: Despite the prevalence of PC inpatient and clinic services among participating NCCN Member Institutions, PC demand still exceeds capacity. Opportunities exist for expansion of home-based PC and inpatient PC units, optimizing referrals, research, and payer collaborations.

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Ann M. Berger, Kathi Mooney, Amy Alvarez-Perez, William S. Breitbart, Kristen M. Carpenter, David Cella, Charles Cleeland, Efrat Dotan, Mario A. Eisenberger, Carmen P. Escalante, Paul B. Jacobsen, Catherine Jankowski, Thomas LeBlanc, Jennifer A. Ligibel, Elizabeth Trice Loggers, Belinda Mandrell, Barbara A. Murphy, Oxana Palesh, William F. Pirl, Steven C. Plaxe, Michelle B. Riba, Hope S. Rugo, Carolina Salvador, Lynne I. Wagner, Nina D. Wagner-Johnston, Finly J. Zachariah, Mary Anne Bergman and Courtney Smith

Cancer-related fatigue is defined as a distressing, persistent, subjective sense of physical, emotional, and/or cognitive tiredness or exhaustion related to cancer or cancer treatment that is not proportional to recent activity and interferes with usual functioning. It is one of the most common side effects in patients with cancer. Fatigue has been shown to be a consequence of active treatment, but it may also persist into posttreatment periods. Furthermore, difficulties in end-of-life care can be compounded by fatigue. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for Cancer-Related Fatigue provide guidance on screening for fatigue and recommendations for interventions based on the stage of treatment. Interventions may include education and counseling, general strategies for the management of fatigue, and specific nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions. Fatigue is a frequently underreported complication in patients with cancer and, when reported, is responsible for reduced quality of life. Therefore, routine screening to identify fatigue is an important component in improving the quality of life for patients living with cancer.

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Michael Levy, Thomas Smith, Amy Alvarez-Perez, Anthony Back, Justin N. Baker, Anna C. Beck, Susan Block, Shalini Dalal, Maria Dans, Thomas R. Fitch, Jennifer Kapo, Jean S. Kutner, Elizabeth Kvale, Sumathi Misra, William Mitchell, Diane G. Portman, Todd M. Sauer, David Spiegel, Linda Sutton, Eytan Szmuilowicz, Robert M. Taylor, 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. The NCCN Guidelines are intended to provide guidance to the primary oncology team on the integration of palliative care into oncology. The NCCN Palliative Care Panel's recommendations seek to ensure that each patient experiences the best quality of life possible throughout the illness trajectory. Accordingly, the NCCN Guidelines outline best practices for screening, assessment, palliative care interventions, reassessment, and after-death care.

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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.