The Tisch Cancer Institute


Mount Sinai Health System & Tisch Cancer Institute, Department of Radiation Oncology
New York, New York

Improving Care of Advanced Cancer Patients with a Dedicated Palliative Radiotherapy Team

Kavita Dharmarajan, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and Palliative Medicine
Mount Sinai Health System Cancer Program
The Tisch Cancer Institute, Department of Radiation

This palliative radiation oncology-based clinical service employs the shortest evidence-based and guideline-directed radiation treatment courses for metastases without compromising efficacy; discusses cases in a multidisciplinary tumor board; and participates in goals-of-care conversations with patients, caregivers, palliative medicine specialists, and primary oncology providers. Outcomes include a 5-day reduction in length of stay and a $20,000 savings per hospitalized radiation patient; a 4-fold decrease in unnecessarily lengthy radiation courses; and a 15% increase in the proportion of patients who met with a palliative care provider within a month of completing radiation.


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Improving the Lives of Advanced Cancer Patients with a Dedicated Palliative Radiotherapy Team

Two opposing forces exist within the field of palliative radiation therapy. Despite its high efficacy, radiation treatment sometimes places an increased burden of care and responsibility on patients and their families, as it can involve lengthy daily treatments lasting two weeks or longer. This necessitates prolonged hospitalizations for patients who are unable to travel back and forth to the radiation facility every day.

Learn how Mount Sinai Hospital’s Palliative Radiation Oncology Consult service created a new approach to caring for patients with advanced cancer receiving radiation therapy for symptom palliation.
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MJ19-Improving-Care-of--Advanced-Cancer-Patients-with-a-Dedicated-Palliative-Radiotherapy-Team-223x300Improving Care of  Advanced Cancer Patients with a Dedicated Palliative Radiotherapy Team

Palliative radiation therapy, or radiation therapy focused on ameliorating symptoms from metastatic disease, is a highly effective treatment modality when utilized appropriately. Palliative radiation can have lasting benefits for patients with advanced cancers with limited prognosis by reducing tumor-causing pain (and thereby significantly cutting opiate requirements, sometimes to zero), improving mobility, and consequently improving the overall quality of life.

Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Radiation Oncology and the Tisch Cancer Institute in New York, N.Y., saw these challenges as an opportunity to incorporate radiation oncology within a multidisciplinary workflow that included palliative care providers and other supportive oncology services in order to improve upon the national benchmarks.
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