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Palliative Care in Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer—Why Do Adolescents Need Special Attention?

Pinkerton, Ross, MD, FRACP*†; Donovan, Leigh, BSW, PhD; Herbert, Anthony, MBBS, FRACP, FAChPM§∥

doi: 10.1097/PPO.0000000000000341
Review Articles

Meeting shortfalls in the provision of care to adolescents and young adults with cancer has focused largely on improving outcomes and psychosocial support. A significant percentage of adolescents and young adults with cancer will die of disease because of initial poor prognosis conditions or disease relapse. In adults, progress has been made in the concept of an integrated cancer/palliative care service. In pediatric oncology, the application of this philosophy of care has lagged behind somewhat. In the case of adolescents, particularly those with advanced cancer, the palliative care needs, in a broader sense than only end-of-life care, are often not adequately met, irrespective of whether treatment is delivered in a pediatric or adult cancer service. There are a number of age-specific aspects to palliative and supportive care for adolescents. Complex interactions between clinicians, parents, and patients potentially limit the young person's ability to influence care planning. The wide variation in real or perceived competency at this age, the developmental challenges in relation to behavior, communication, and coping strategy all require particular professional expertise that is not always available.

From the *Hummingbird House Children's Hospice;

University of Queensland;

Quality of Care Collaborative Australia, Children's Health Queensland; and

§Palliative Care Service, Children's Health Queensland; and

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Reprints: Ross Pinkerton, MD, FRACP, Hummingbird House Hospice, 60 Curwen Terrace, Chermside, Queensland 4032, Australia. E-mail:

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