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Palliative Care for Patients With Cancer in the COVID-19 Era

Educational Objective
To understand how palliative care for patients with cancer needs to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic
1 Credit CME

With early studies suggesting that patients with active cancer are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, the current pandemic is forcing palliative care health care professionals to better define our identity as a field.1 With social distancing requirements, should we minimize patient contact to keep our patients and ourselves safe? As a relatively new specialty, are palliative care consults a luxury that we can hold off on to avoid overburdening the medical system? Are we essential medical personnel, or not?

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Ambereen K. Mehta, MD, MPH, Palliative Care Program, Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 1328 16th St, Room 207, Santa Monica, CA 90404 (akmehta47@gmail.com).

Published Online: May 7, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.1938

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Smith reported receiving personal fees from serving as coeditor, Non-Pain Palliative Symptoms, UpToDate. No other disclosures were reported.

References
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Onder  G , Rezza  G , Brusaferro  S.   Case-fatality rate and characteristics of patients dying in relation to COVID-19 in Italy  [published online March 23, 2020].  JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4683PubMedGoogle Scholar
2.
Temel  JS , Greer  JA , Muzikansky  A ,  et al.  Early palliative care for patients with metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer.   N Engl J Med. 2010;363(8):733-742. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1000678PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Meier  DE , Back  AL , Berman  A , Block  SD , Corrigan  JM , Morrison  RS .  A national strategy for palliative care.   Health Aff (Millwood). 2017;36(7):1265-1273. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0164PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Dow  LA , Matsuyama  RK , Ramakrishnan  V ,  et al.  Paradoxes in advance care planning: the complex relationship of oncology patients, their physicians, and advance medical directives.   J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(2):299-304. doi:10.1200/JCO.2009.24.6397PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Hoek  PD , Schers  HJ , Bronkhorst  EM , Vissers  KCP , Hasselaar  JGJ .  The effect of weekly specialist palliative care teleconsultations in patients with advanced cancer—a randomized clinical trial.   BMC Med. 2017;15(1):119. doi:10.1186/s12916-017-0866-9PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Denis  F , Basch  E , Septans  A-L ,  et al.  Two-year survival comparing web-based symptom monitoring vs routine surveillance following treatment for lung cancer.   JAMA. 2019;321(3):306-307. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.18085PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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