Dr. Baker on the Importance of Symptom Management in Children With Cancer

Justin N. Baker, MD, chief, Division of Quality of Life and Palliative Care, attending physician, Quality of Life Service, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, discusses the importance of symptom management in children with cancer.

Justin N. Baker, MD, chief, Division of Quality of Life and Palliative Care, attending physician, Quality of Life Service, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, discusses the importance of symptom management in children with cancer.

The evolution of symptom management and end-of-life care for pediatric patients with cancer has been rapid in the last 5 to 10 years. This is a very complex patient population, Baker explains. About 20% of children with cancer will die of their disease, making the management of their symptoms at the end of their lives very important.

Importantly, oncologists need to be well versed in symptom management, relationship-based care, and have excellent communication skills, Baker says. This not only makes a difference for the patient, but for the parents and oncology team. It is imperative to make every day count, and to be there for the parents during the bereavement period as well, Baker says.

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