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Clinical Management |

Palliative Radiation Therapy

Robert G. Parker, MD
JAMA. 1964;190(11):1000-1002. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070240046012.
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Palliative treatment of the human with incurable cancer must be directed to the relief of symptoms or signs already caused by or associated with the neoplasm or anticipated in the immediate future course of the disease. Relief of suffering remains distinct and often exclusive from prolongation of life. Prolongation of life without comfort is really prolongation of the process of dying.

This objective, relief of suffering, often seems obscured in the care of the patient with incurable cancer. Confusion of objectives may result because palliative treatment usually requires greater judgment than does "curative" treatment. Needless heroic treatment administered at great cost, inconvenience, and even discomfort to these patients, is a costly tuition for the inexperienced physician.

Even with great experience in observation of the tortuous course of uncontrolled cancer in the human, correlation of treatment and its effect is difficult. However, the accomplishments of palliative treatment are very real and


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