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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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Benjamin L. Franc, Kesav Raghavan, Timothy P. Copeland, Maya Ladenheim, Angela Marks, Steven Z. Pantilat, David O’Riordan, David Seidenwurm and Michael Rabow

Purpose: For patients with advanced cancer, palliative care (PC) referral itself results in improved quality of life and lower total health care costs. While our earlier research suggests that PC referral alone does not appear to affect imaging utilization, the effect of the intensity of services for PC symptom management on utilization of imaging services is unknown. We sought to evaluate whether an association exists between the intensity of PC symptom management services and utilization of high-cost imaging at the end-of-life. Methods/Materials: Adult cancer patients who died between January 1, 2012–May 31, 2015 were identified. A PC symptom management intensity score was determined for each patient during the last year of life based upon the number of inpatient and outpatient PC service visits and the number of problems addressed within the 8 defined domains for palliative care. Frequency of utilization of nonemergent oncologic imaging was determined for the last 3 months and the last month of life. Using chi-square and Wilcoxon-rank sum tests, effects of low (<20th percentile) and high (>80th percentile) PC symptom management intensity score on the proportion of patients imaged and mean number of studies per patient (mean imaging intensity [MII]) were compared for the last 3 months and last month of life. Results: 3,772 decedents were included, with 3,523 (93.4%) never referred to PC and 249 (6.6%) referred to PC, largely before the last month of life (70.3%). Within the last 3 months and last month of life, the proportion of patients imaged was significantly greater (P<.001) in patients with high PC symptom management intensity scores when compared to those with low PC symptom management intensity scores. There was no significant difference in the mean number of imaging studies received by either group in the last 1 month or 3 months of life. (P>.05). Conclusions: The intensity of PC symptom management in end-of-life oncologic care was not associated with decreased use of nonemergent, high-cost cancer imaging in our cohort. This may suggest an opportunity for reduced high-cost imaging through further clarification of the goals of care with both patients and oncologists, although the role of imaging in the setting of PC during the end-of-life period warrants further study as well.

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Robert A. Swarm, Amy Pickar Abernethy, Doralina L. Anghelescu, Costantino Benedetti, Sorin Buga, Charles Cleeland, Oscar A. deLeon-Casasola, June G. Eilers, Betty Ferrell, Mark Green, Nora A. Janjan, Mihir M. Kamdar, Michael H. Levy, Maureen Lynch, Rachel M. McDowell, Natalie Moryl, Suzanne A. Nesbit, Judith A. Paice, Michael W. Rabow, Karen L. Syrjala, Susan G. Urba, Sharon M. Weinstein, Mary Dwyer and Rashmi Kumar

Pain is a common symptom associated with cancer and its treatment. Pain management is an important aspect of oncologic care, and unrelieved pain significantly comprises overall quality of life. These NCCN Guidelines list the principles of management and acknowledge the range of complex decisions faced in the management oncologic pain. In addition to pain assessment techniques, these guidelines provide principles of use, dosing, management of adverse effects, and safe handling procedures of pharmacologic therapies and discuss a multidisciplinary approach for the management of cancer pain.

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Robert Swarm, Amy Pickar Abernethy, Doralina L. Anghelescu, Costantino Benedetti, Craig D. Blinderman, Barry Boston, Charles Cleeland, Nessa Coyle, Oscar A. deLeon-Casasola, June G. Eilers, Betty Ferrell, Nora A. Janjan, Sloan Beth Karver, Michael H. Levy, Maureen Lynch, Natalie Moryl, Barbara A. Murphy, Suzanne A. Nesbit, Linda Oakes, Eugenie A. Obbens, Judith A. Paice, Michael W. Rabow, Karen L. Syrjala, Susan Urba and Sharon M. Weinstein

Overview Pain, defined as “a sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage,”1 is one of the most common symptoms associated with cancer. Cancer pain or cancer-related pain is distinct from pain experienced by patients without malignancies. Pain occurs in approximately one quarter of patients with newly diagnosed malignancies, one third of patients undergoing treatment, and three quarters of patients with advanced disease,2–4 and is one of the symptoms patients fear most. Unrelieved pain denies patients comfort and greatly affects their activities, motivation, interactions with family and friends, and overall quality of life. The importance of relieving pain and availability of effective therapies make it imperative that physicians and nurses caring for these patients be adept at the assessment and treatment of cancer pain.5–7 This requires familiarity with the pathogenesis of cancer pain; pain assessment techniques; common barriers to the delivery of appropriate analgesia; and pertinent pharmacologic, anesthetic, neurosurgical, and behavioral approaches to the treatment of cancer pain. The most widely accepted algorithm for the treatment of cancer pain was developed by the WHO.8,9 It suggests that patients with pain be started on acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). If this is not sufficient, patients should be escalated to a weak opioid, such as codeine, and then to a strong opioid, such as morphine. Although this algorithm has served as an excellent teaching tool, the management of cancer pain is considerably more complex than this 3-tiered “cancer pain ladder”...
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Robert A. Swarm, Judith A. Paice, Doralina L. Anghelescu, Madhuri Are, Justine Yang Bruce, Sorin Buga, Marcin Chwistek, Charles Cleeland, David Craig, Ellin Gafford, Heather Greenlee, Eric Hansen, Arif H. Kamal, Mihir M. Kamdar, Susan LeGrand, Sean Mackey, M. Rachel McDowell, Natalie Moryl, Lisle M. Nabell, Suzanne Nesbit, BCPS, Nina O’Connor, Michael W. Rabow, Elizabeth Rickerson, Rebecca Shatsky, Jill Sindt, Susan G. Urba, Jeanie M. Youngwerth, Lydia J. Hammond and Lisa A. Gurski

In recent years, the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for Adult Cancer Pain have undergone substantial revisions focusing on the appropriate and safe prescription of opioid analgesics, optimization of nonopioid analgesics and adjuvant medications, and integration of nonpharmacologic methods of cancer pain management. This selection highlights some of these changes, covering topics on management of adult cancer pain including pharmacologic interventions, nonpharmacologic interventions, and treatment of specific cancer pain syndromes. The complete version of the NCCN Guidelines for Adult Cancer Pain addresses additional aspects of this topic, including pathophysiologic classification of cancer pain syndromes, comprehensive pain assessment, management of pain crisis, ongoing care for cancer pain, pain in cancer survivors, and specialty consultations.