Global Perspectives on Palliative Care for Cancer Patients: Not All Countries Are the Same

Curr Oncol Rep. 2021 Apr 8;23(5):60. doi: 10.1007/s11912-021-01044-8.


PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW: The integration of cancer-related palliative care is essential to holistic, quality cancer care. While some similarities exist between countries, this manuscript will focus on five differences that impact palliative care for cancer patients including the epidemiology of cancer and related symptoms, cancer-specific integration into care, palliative care education, economic development of the country, and cultural and religious differences.

RECENT FINDINGS: The epidemiology of cancer varies around the world resulting in variable symptoms and the need for individualized approaches to palliative care. While palliative care is integrated in some countries, it is lacking in over half of the world, and specific integration into cancer care is virtually absent. Education and training are the key to expansion, and yet oncology-focused palliative care education is lacking or is not well-reported in the literature. To complicate this global lens even further are the economic disparities that exist. Low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) are resource poor and have the fewest resources and least amount of integration, and yet patients with advanced cancer are over-represented in these countries. Essential to cancer-related palliative care is a tailored approach that addresses cultural and religious differences around the globe. Palliative care is developing around the globe and yet palliative care specific for cancer patients is in its infancy. Cancer care professionals should (1) understand the epidemiologic differences that exist globally and the impact this has on palliative care, (2) integrate palliative care into the cancer care arena, (3) provide cancer-specific palliative education focused on the cancer trajectory from diagnosis through survivorship and end of life, (4) advocate for LMICs, which suffer from a lack of resources and services, and (5) understand cultural and religious differences that exist to provide holistic and sensitive cancer-related palliative care.

PMID:33829323 | PMC:PMC8026388 | DOI:10.1007/s11912-021-01044-8