Palliative and supportive care for glioma patients

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Cancer treatment and research


The diagnosis of a brain tumor is a life-changing event for patients and families. High-grade gliomas are incurable and long-term survival remains limited. While low-grade glioma patients have better outcomes, their quality of life is often affected by a variety of symptoms as well. Helping glioma patients improve quality of life at all stages of illness is an important goal for the interdisciplinary care team. There is evidence from advanced lung cancer patients that early involvement of a palliative care team can improve patient's quality of life, symptom burden, and even survival and a similar approach benefits glioma patients as well. Patients with high-grade and low-grade glioma often suffer from significant symptom burden. We discuss how validated global symptom assessments and symptom-specific screening tools are useful to identify distressing symptoms. Seizures, fatigue, depression, and anxiety are some of the more common symptoms throughout the disease course and should be managed actively. Patients with glioma also have high symptom burden at the end of life and the majority lose decision-making capacity. Advance care planning conversations early in the disease course are essential to elicit the patient's wishes for end of life care and effective communication with surrogate decision makers during all stages of the disease helps ensure that those wishes are respected.

Medical Subject Headings

Anxiety; Brain Neoplasms; Depression; Fatigue; Glioma; Humans; Palliative Care; Terminal Care

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