Early initiation of concurrent palliative oncology care improved 1-year survival compared with delayed initiation, a new study published online early in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown.

Although randomized controlled trials have supported integrated oncology and palliative care, the optimal timing of initiation of that care has not been determined.

Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate the effect of early versus delayed palliative care on 1-year survival, quality of life, symptom impact, mood, and resource use among patients with cancer at a National Cancer Institute cancer center, a Veteran Affair Medical Center, and community outreach clinics.

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For the study, participants were randomly assigned to receive an in-person palliative care consultation, structured palliative care telehealth nurse coaching sessions, and monthly follow-up either early after being enrolled or 3 months afterwards.

Results showed that overall quality of life, symptom impact, and mood were not statistically significantly different after enrollment or before death.

Researchers found that the 1-year survival rates were 63% and 48% in the early and delayed groups, respectively (P = 0.038). Resource use was also similar between the two groups.


  1. Bakitas MA, Tosteson TD, Zhigang L, et al. Early versus delayed initiation of concurrent palliative oncology care: patient outcomes in the ENABLE III randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2015. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.58.6362.