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Tennessee Medicine E-Journal

Abstract

Palliative radiation oncology is a new or foreign concept for many who deal with or are involved in the management of advanced cancer. This paper equips patients, medical students, residents, and physicians to understand the fundamentals of palliative radiation oncology. Given the growing burden of cancer and healthcare delivery challenges for patients nearing the end of life, it is important to understand the mechanism and implications of palliative radiation therapy, as well as the challenges in treatment. Advantages of treatment are carefully weighed with limitations and cost considerations, prognostic awareness, and adherence to goals of care. While treatment with palliative radiation may offer high potential value in certain scenarios, ultimately it is the role of the palliative radiation oncologist to decide when and when not to treat. Recent health system changes towards value-based care may promote a growing role for palliative radiation oncology in advanced cancer cases.

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