Palliative Care Alongside Curative Treatment Improves Patient Outcomes


The chair of the Institute of Pain and Palliative Care explains how patients with cancer may improve their treatment outcomes with palliative care.

Palliative care helps patients with cancer manage the emotional and traumatic burden that comes with the disease, explains Joe Contreras, MD. Furthermore, improving physical and emotional symptom burden is crucial in helping patients feel well enough to participate in physical therapy and other treatments that improve their overall quality of life.

“If we are successful with the pain, nausea and some of the [other] symptoms that patients with can have, and we're successful with helping one emotionally—because having the diagnosis of cancer obviously, is very scary and very traumatic for not only patients but for their families—then we can get one to feel better,” he explained.

In an interview with Oncology Nursing News®, Contreras, chair of the Institute of Pain and Palliative Care at Hackensack Meridian Health, discusses how the existing literature has demonstrated that palliative care improves patient outcomes.

“We have been able to do studies that have actually focused on looking at whether or not improving quality of life and emotional symptoms and spiritual symptoms could actually have a benefit in terms of longevity of life,” he said.

“It turns out that the group that was assigned to palliative care did have better symptom management scores, did have better emotional scores, and lived 3 months longer.”


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/NEJMoa1000678

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